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Aberrant: 200X - Teething Trouble


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The Vancouver Rashoud Facility was one of the best (public) examples of it's kind in the world, and Project Utopia had spared little expense in it's construction and outfitting. Like most of the larger facilities, the Vancouver clinic appeared to be a large glass-and-steel edifice, shining in the mid-morning sun. The front lobby was massive, the vaulted vitrium ceiling far overhead giving visitors the impression of stepping into a brilliant, rainbow-patterned cathedral as light refracted through it before spilling down to those below. Designed by Ardis 'Artifex' Longley, the Rashoud clinic was both warmly welcoming and quietly awe-inspiring.

The front-of-house staff were educated and trained to be the first face of Utopia any visitor would see, so when Jael and Sunshine followed Dr Randalls through the front doors they were greeted with welcoming smiles and nods. Jia made straight for the desk and asked to use the phone whilst the two following her waited nearby, Jael alternating between protectively listening in on the Doc's phone call and watching Sunshine's reactions. If he got frightened or startled...

One look took that worry away: Sunshine was staring wide-eyed at the people, the flowering plants, the fountain with childlike fascination. To be fair, he was being stared at too by those waiting in, or passing through, the lobby. The glow. It has to be the glow Jael thought to herself wryly, aware of the feel of his hand in hers and knowing that no, it wasn't just the glow. Sunshine's manner was wide-open and clear as his eyes. He didn't possess enough gravitas to be imposing like Einherjar, or sultry like Katya, or even just plain sexy like Jael herself. He looked at people frankly, and there was no measuring, appraisal or judgement in his gaze. He was simply curious.

Then his eye caught something and he started to walk across the lobby floor, hand still clasping Jael's and drawing her along in his wake. Barefoot and clad in her eufiber, he moved to the center of the lobby floor and looked at the rainbows that played over the polished surface. He stuck his arm into the rays of light that gathered there, the radiance making his already glowing skin sparkle lightly as he turned his hand this way and that, a delighted and distracted smile on his face. He glanced back at Jael, then stepped fully into the lights, colored motes blending with his golden aura as he looked up at the ceiling high above. His smile turning into one of serene contemplation, he closed his eyes and simply stood in place still holding Jael's hand, rainbow patterns playing over his face.

"What's he doing?" Dr Jia asked quietly as she came to stand next to Jael. Jael glanced at her and shrugged, studying Sunshine's expression before venturing her opinion.

"I'd say he's listening."

"I am listening." Sunshine whispered, almost reverently.

"What to, John?" Jia asked, her dark eyes intent as she watched his quantum aura.

"The lights." he said, opening his eyes and looking at her and Jael with a wide, happy smile. "It is like music."

"Interesting..." Jia mused, making a note on a pad she'd acquired somewhere. "Listen, John. I know you'd like to stay here a bit perhaps, but-"

"It is okay, Doctor Jia. You need to test me and help me not hurt people and look after myself." Sunshine said gravely, the sober expression in his eyes a jarring contrast to his dreamy behaviour of a few moments ago.

"Uh- Yes. Exactly." Dr Randalls nodded. John looked up the refracted sunlight again and smiled faintly, then stepped from the beams with a stoically resigned air.

"I am ready, then."

* * * * * *

It was later. Initial tests had happened.

Sunshine had no problem with headaches at all, or any more spontaneous displays of power for that matter. Dr Randalls had made the decision to avoid Moxinoquantamine and Adrenocilin for the time being, seeing as they were A: scarcely necessary and B: might do more harm than good, particularly the Mox.

This was mainly because they determined that Sunshine's primary source of power, and indeed sustenance, was his ability to absorb ambient light energy, which was catalysed inside the cells of his body into fuel for millions of tiny fusion reactions. He didn't need food. He didn't need air. It was entirely possible that he didn't even need sleep as long as he had light. The structure of his entire body had been optimized for the absorption and utilisation of energy, something that had all of the scientists very excited. But as a side-effect, inhibiting the absorption of light energy could cause actually cause him harm. A series of tests showed that the leakage of quantum from his body, the light and warmth he gave off, were in fact almost completely identical to actual solar radiation filtered through the atmosphere - a mixture of infrared, ultraviolet and visible electromagnetic radiation strong enough to cause a tan over time. This leakage was why John needed almost constant light, even if it was low level. A dim bulb would keep his stored energy from decreasing over time, but for recharging quantum, the glowing young nova needed strong artifical light or natural light sources such as sunlight, moonlight and, theoretically, starlight.

The tests and quantum scans quickly led the scientists to have John take the eufiber off, and not a moment or two too soon. Something in Sunshine's emanations was killing the organism as it tried to bond with him; in fact, the colony was currently immersed in a restorative nutrient bath and would be for the next 24 hrs - the eufiber equivalent of intensive care. The Utopians assured Jael that her eufiber would be fine, but it was a good thing they'd caught the discrepancy in Sunshine's quantum signature in time. Eufiber wasn't cheap.

Sunshine was a perfect patient. Even when Jael couldn't hold his hand, such as on the scanner, he was cooperative, if full of questions. Very full of questions. 'Why' became the word of the day in the testing labs, and attempts to provide easy answers worked, at best, for only a few minutes before Sunshine would perk up and ask another question that hadn't been answered. He had a tireless and fast mind. Having learned words, he was now setting about learning everything else, or so it seemed.

They were currently in the facility cafeteria, Dr Randalls and two of her colleagues going over the morning's test results whilst they all had lunch together. Sunshine, not being hungry, seemed content just to sample a bit of whatever everyone else was having.

"Well, I hope the morning hasn't been too boring for you, John." Professor Dowlson said over his spectacles at the glowing young man. Sunshine shook his head, a lock of golden hair falling over one eye. They dressed him in a simple one-piece blue jumpsuit for conveniences sake but he didn't seem to mind, just being thankful that he hadn't 'killed Jael's clothing'.

"No Professor. I have learned a lot. Are you going to teach me about my powers after you eat lunch?" The scientists exchanged smiles.

"Sure we are, young man. Sure we are. Eager to get to grips?" There was a momentary pause as Sunshine discerned Dowlson's meaning.

"Yes I am. I want to be able to look after myself so I can choose to go and live with Jael." he said with an expectant smile.

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Donald was in one of those moods, a good mood where he picked up a lunch and then as he walked to a table and simple luxuriated in the calm, nova-enhanced atmosphere of the room. Overlaid with a synthesiac translation of sights into sounds, it was a thrumming, surprisingly delightful moving concert on the extreme cheap. And besides, he had gained an appreciable understanding of Spanish from his intense study in a full 24 hour period, literally.

He was shifting his focused senses from one source to another, like a conductor handling some mixed but amazingly delightful mix of various genres. Here a drum solo from the consumption of chicken, the saccharine pop melody of two people staring in that romantic manner at each other, and so on and so forth.

Then, the glowing young man caught his curious gaze for a moment, and Sunshine's darting simply curious gaze looked at the passing red-haired man. Unfortunately, Donald had transferred his sight-music to the glow as well.

The result he would later recall, was something like Mozart, or Bach's work, except for the built-up generation of light converting into a level of sound forceful enough to blow out windows had it been real sound. The mental force of the 'blaring sound' overwhelmed Donald, to the point where he let out a yelp of pain, and fell to his knees, dropping his tray of mac and cheese unceremoniously. And startling everyone with Sunshine, including the startled young man himself.

A hand flew to his head as Donald cut off the synthesia link immediately. So this is what it's like to hit yourself in the head with a hammer. 30 times.

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'John' started in his seat and looked wide-eyed at the red-haired man who had collapsed to the floor clutching at his ears. He had merely glanced that way and had already hurt someone! But he couldn't have, could he? He wasn't upset or feeling that hot dark sensation in his chest. A wide cerulean gaze looked at Evo for a long moment, then at the doctors, two of whom were already moving with brisk urgency across to the young man's side.

"But... But I only looked!" he protested to Jael and the other doctors, confusion and worry plain on his face. "I only looked at him Jael! I did! Looking cannot hurt people can it?" An expression of panic flashed across his boyish features and and he immediately covered his eyes with his hands, face screwing up under his shielding hands. "I did not mean to! I did not mean to hurt him!" he said, breaking into tears.

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"No..." Donald got up and gestured the doctors back. "I'm fine, I'm fine." He told them, and also clearly for the benefit of the glowing young man who looked like he was starting to cry. Was this that nova from earlier? Looked like it, though his words seemed surprisingly like that of a young child. Well, he had to be newly erupted at the least.

"Stop crying," Donald's words soft and reassuring "you didn't do anything wrong. I was listening to your glow, I should have realized it would be as loud as it was bright."

Suddenly realizing it sounded silly, he glanced down, and would you look at that. "And my food's intact." Donald noted this as he reached down and picked up the right-side-up tray with the un-dirtied, still safe and sanitary cheeseburger with onion rings and ketchup.

"Everything's turned out all right."

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Jael was perilously close to contentment. Sunshine had remained in contact with her during most of the experience; when he couldn’t, he was looking to her, as if afraid she’d fade. Jael didn’t like people clinging to her like that, but it was okay if Sunshine did it. He was so innocent, like a baby – he even smelled clean and fresh, like a summer day – but without all the annoyances of total physical dependence.

And she’d never had someone defend her like that before. Just thinking about it warmed a part of her rarely touched. She’d accepted who she was, in so far as she didn’t care what others thought so long as she and Shelly were happy. Shelly loved Jael as she was, so there’d been no need to change who she was in any way. Everyone else could go to Hell, as far as the blonde beauty was concerned.

But Sunshine was someone she was starting to care about and that changed things. Like Shelly, she wanted him to be happy and if her actions would make him unhappy, she’d consider changing them. But unlike Shelly, just being near him make her feel odd. It was a warm, happy feeling, not unlike that languid warmth and bliss after sex. But it wasn’t sexual, which was frankly confusing. In her experience, this sensation was always linked to sex.

Of course, that just made her wonder what she’d feel after sex with Sunshine. Stop that!

It was nice just sitting next to him. Unlike Sunshine, Jael needed to eat, so she was working her way through her third bowl of pork fried rice – or a near facsimile of the dish – when the red-head dropped next to them and caused a Sunshine-meltdown. Her food forgotten, Jael turned and put an arm over his shoulder, pulling him close to her. “You didn’t do anything,” she murmured, even as the klutz assured him too and got his act together.

Sunshine reined in his tears; Jael left her arm around him anyway, because it felt good to touch him. She looked at the nova who had all but dropped at her feet and said, “So… did you have a seizure or is this your way of meeting new people? Almost throwing food on them and making them cry?”

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Donald got up and brushed off his pants as he glanced at the surprisingly irate woman.

"Well- some of us can hear what we see, whether it's lights or something else." He replied frankly, only to be interrupted by Sunshine, who had blinked and started studying Donald intently when he mentioned listening to the light.

"Like music?" The returning curious and friendly look on Sunshine's face was returned.

Donald nodded and smiled a little, things seemed to be recovering. "Mozart's classical music, I think." "What about Jael?" was the reply, and it seemed that surprisingly, the Sunshine guy seemed comfortable with the blond, despite the attitude she had just showed.

"Grunge." He smiled, but secretly making a joke on the blonde. Sunshine accepted it, and smiled brightly. Dang, but he sounds like a young kid, but seems as cute.

"You need a place to sit?" Sunshine suddenly announced. "Sit down with us."

"Well, that's nice... um.. you don't mind?" Donald found himself slowly sitting down, surprised at how this was developing.

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"I do not." John replied easily. The concept of 'minding' had been absorbed by him earlier in the day when Jael had remarked that she didn't mind that his radiance had nearly killed her eufiber, since the doctors had rescued it. Another thing she had said to put him at ease came to mind. "No harm, no foul." he told the red-haired man. He seemed to be of a similar age to himself, but Sunshine knew that he was a tabula rasa now, and understood what that meant: that he was a baby in the eyes of others, who had a lot to learn before he could take care of himself. Eruption seemed to cause a lot of problems, he had remarked, to which the doctors and Jael had responded that yes, maybe it did, but it was also usually a positive thing overall once things settled down for a new nova.

"I am called John." he said with a wide smile. "That is not really my name though, because I lost all my memories when I Erupted. That means I have to choose who I am when I know more. But John is what people are calling me until I do." He examined what Donald was eating curiously for a moment, then looked at him.

"Uh.. Donald." Donald said, simultaneously taken aback and charmed by this strange kid. The blonde sitting next to John with an arm around him looked familiar. He'd seen her at the med station last night and... Oh wait! That was Jael Carver, Stanford party girl and number ninety-something on the N! rundown of Nova Chicks Least Likely To Say No. But she wasn't looking like John's arm candy here - her attitude was more, well, protective.

"As in 'Duck'?" she asked with a smirk. Donald was used to that one, though.

"As in 'Trump'." he responded with his old schoolyard comeback as he took a huge bite of his burger.

"You can hear light too?" John asked curiously. Donald nodded, chewing and swallowing before he answered.

"I can see sound, taste colours, and smell textures as well if I want to." he confirmed, feeling oddly proud at how John's sky-blue eyes widened.

"I cannot do all of that." he said in impressed astonishment. "I can just hear sunlight like gentle singing when it is on my skin. And it does not hurt me." He looked at Donald gravely. "You should be careful so you do not get hurt when doing that. I thought I had hurt you because I do not know all of my nova powers yet. That is why I am here so that Doctor Jia and Professor Dowlson can find out what I can do, so I do not hurt someone." He looked seriously at Jael next to him. "I nearly hurt Jael before I came here. And I put a hole in the wall." he added as an afterthought.

"You did." Dr Randalls said with a small smile. "But compared to some new novas, you didn't do so bad John. Some destroy whole buildings or hurt lots of people by accident. They cause earthquakes or storms... Well, compared to that a small hole in an apartment and a scare for the rest of us is very small potatoes."

"Small potatoes?" he asked.

"It means it's nothing major. You didn't actually hurt anyone, and now you know better, right?" The doctor asked with a smile.

"Yes." John nodded. "I do know better."

"That's how most of us learn, young man." the professor chimed in. "We learn a lot from books or the OpNet, like you, but we also learn very important things by making mistakes, trying and failing. Like when we learn to walk: it's hard, and we try a lot of times to stand up and walk across the room, and we fall down a lot at first."

"I did not." John said, blinking and looking at Jael questioningly. "It was strange to walk for the first time. But it was not hard." Professor Dowlson was ready for this one.

"Yes, I read the report. Well, that's because you're a nova. A lot of things that are hard for us are easy for you. But," he raised a finger to illustrate the point "that just means that any mistakes you make will be bigger ones, too. Like with the wall. Non-novas don't have that problem, do they?"

Sunshine pondered that for a moment, then shook his head slowly, heedless of how his fall of golden hair trailed across his face.

"No." he replied seriously, his blue eyes intent. "They do not."

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“I’d still rather be a nova,” Jael said softly. Sunshine glanced at her and she smiled as she put down her fork and brushed the hair out of his face. “I’m glad you are too, otherwise, you’d be dead.” That thought saddened her – an unusual emotion for her. True to her nature, she simply accepted it rather than questioning it. She already understood that Sunshine meant something to her; she didn’t need to figure out exactly what that was.

Sunshine nodded somberly and the table was quiet for a moment, giving Dr. Randalls the opening he needed. “John, I have a question,” he said. The golden nova turned to look at the doctor with an open smile, despite the innumerable questions he’d been asked already. “You said that you wanted to be able to choose to go live with Jael. Don’t you think you’d like to have your own place and your own life?”

Sunshine looked confused. “Why would I not have a life living with Jael?” he asked.

Jael looked annoyed but kept her mouth shut for right now. She understood where the doctor was going with this, but she felt only irritation that once again, life with her was somehow viewed as a deficit or a drawback. It was unfair that people assumed that she was inferior simply because she refused to settle for a single man, or that she was cheapened by the way she spent her time with men. There was nothing cheap about her!

Professor Dowlson’s face was a study in caution. “Well, John, Dr. Randalls meant that living on your own is considered a mark of maturity, that you don’t need to have someone take care of you,” he said. “He was asking why you wouldn’t want to live on your own, when you can take care of yourself.”

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Well, 'John's explanation clears up a bit, some sort of heavy amnesia then... Donald was thinking about that, then the topic turned to John's future living arrangements.

"I live on my own," Donald piped in in a casual tone of friendly advice, "and I still see my friends a lot. Same goes for you and Jael. There's no reason you have to live with Jael to still be her friend and see her."

Inside, behind the cover of his face, he mentally felt a bit of pain. His friends were gone. The ones he knew the most anyway, and others were likely dead, in a hospital, or otherwise recovering. This wasn't time to think about them though or spoil the bright mood.

"Though if you do decide to live with her in the end John, well, nobody can stop you except Jael, and there's nothing wrong with that right?"

Well, she was apparently notoriously... loose, but hell, maybe she wouldn't try to jump John's bones. Or maybe once he was considered mentally competent... well, that wasn't his business now was it?

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John considered Donald's words, took them in and weighed them against what the doctors were saying. Blue eyes flicked to Jael's face, studying her for a long moment. Mind apparently made up, he looked at Professor Dowlson and smiled.

"I do not want to live with Jael just so that she can take care of me. I want to live with her because I like her. People think Jael is bad because she does not hook up with one man, but they do not know her." he explained, his azure gaze clear and direct. "I want to learn to take care of myself as well. I am learning already. I know that I do not need food like other people, or clothes to keep warm. I have to wear clothes because people think it is wrong not to, but sometimes clothes look good too, so I do not mind." He paused, then looked at the others for a moment before continuing. "I want to learn more things, like about the countries on the OpNet and hotties and why sunlight sings for me. I want to see what school is like and what jobs are like."

He fell silent then, his eyes searching the expressions of the others.

"I want a lot of things." he said quietly, a little shy suddenly. "Is that strange?"

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Jael smiled at her golden boy – yes, hers. He was hers like Shelly was hers; Jael owned them in a way that few would understand. Most people would have said “They are my friends.” That is how most people would have claimed people. To Jael, friends were people that belonged to her; people that would make her change who she was because it would help them. She was more or less tactful and polite because Shelly wanted her to be socially competent.

The doctors were annoying her because she sensed that they wanted her away from Sunshine. Evo she was neutral on, so his last remark earned him a smile. “There is nothing wrong with Sunshine living with me,” she said, giving Donald a smile. It was a pretty smile, one that made her look a lot more like a young woman than a jaded, modern harlot. “In fact, he’d be welcome to do so. I’ve already given it some thought. How I’d do it, how I’d pay for it, how I’d convince Shelly to move with me and so on.”

“Shelly?” Donald asked, encouraged by the pretty smile. Like many men, he was quick to overlook past bitchiness if the woman was pretty enough.

“My best friend,” Jael said, her smile deepening a little with warmth. “She lives with me now and if I were to get another roommate, I’d have to talk to her about it. But I think she’d like you, Sunshine.”

She fell silent as her ‘friend’ mentally spoke out loud, running through his thoughts. When he was done, Jael said, “Sunshine, your list is shorter than most peoples’; most folks want and want and want. So few actually do what it takes to get though.” She glanced at Donald, waiting for him to confirm her thoughts again.

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Was Jael flirting with him? Given her attractiveness, the juxtaposition of her glance and the words, perhaps she was. And maybe... well, maybe he was guessing too much here. And darn it, the fact was that after the events of the Crush, erupting, and the pain of lost friends, sex was a good way to forget the issues confronting him temporarily.

And when there was a good looking woman who was reputed to be not as likely to say no, little more needed to be said on the subject.

But anything, even subtle, that could be perceived as coming on or hitting on seemed like the wrong thing to do, especially with Sunny John around. So keeping on good behavior seemed the only option for now. And besides, John needed quality advice now, not any with sex aforethought.

"Exactly. Besides, things are a lot easier to obtain as a nova. Seeing other countries on the OpNet? If you could fly, visiting other countries isn't far off. You should see my hometown in Boston, in the United States."

"You aren't from Canada?" Sunshine asked, having developed some understanding of the regional geography from OpNet maps, and curious as ever to what that meant.

"No." Donald admitted. "I was going to college- a finishing school where you can study whatever subject you want, here in Victoria. I'm from the United States. But as I was saying, I think once you're ready, you should go out and see the world and learn the things you want to learn. I certainly want to."

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"I think one step at a time would be best." Dr Randalls interjected smoothly, smiling at them all. "After all, John is technically a minor, and a ward of the state unless relatives can be found."

"What relatives?" Jael asked, somewhat waspishly. "Sunshine's undergone a complete reworking of everything from his DNA to his brain: who can really claim to be his blood relative anymore?" Assuming they didn't die in the Crush. she left unsaid, electing to continue with "And like we already talked about, everyone's going to hear about him and start figuring out how they can claim to be his guardian. You really want to put him through that... that circus?"

"Indeed not." Professor Dowlson said, giving Randalls a gently admonishing look. "You're right of course, Ms Carver. John doesn't need that. We will make discreet enquiries only with the Canadian authorities, but I agree with your main principle: John here needs to focus on who he is and who he is going to be." The older man smiled at the glowing youth. "I hope you don't mind me saying, John, but purely from a scientific perspective I am going to be watching how you develop with interest. It looks to be the closest thing to watching a nova child grow up I'm ever likely to see."

"Don't children get to be novas?" Sunshine asked, the contractions in his speech coming a little more often as he picked up on the idiom.

"Not so far." Jia told him. "Eruption in our experience takes place anytime after adolescence starts, usually around fifteen or older."

"Oh." Sunshine nodded in comprehension. "So if I am a ward of the state, that means that Canada will be looking after me?"

"They'll be responsible for making sure you're properly looked after, which is nearly the same thing." Donald put in. "But they'll have to consider who you want to look after you too. You being happy has to be a consideration, right Professor?"

"Well, I'm no legal expert, but the short answer is yes, I suppose they do. After all, even if you're a minor, you're still a nova, and they would be wise to take into account that an unhappy nova could-"

"Make them look as though they're not doing their jobs right." Dr Randalls said firmly, resisting the urge to shoot the Professor a warning look of her own. It was best NOT to give someone with the emotional age of a toddler ideas that he could bully governmental authorities. "So we'll work with them, and you, to make sure that you are happy and well-looked after until you are legally allowed to decide where you want to live."

John frowned at that. "That sounds like you won't let me stay with Jael." he said quietly, his blue eyes darkening. "Even if I want to."

"Ms Carver has studies and work to do in Stanford. That's a long way away." Dowlson said soothingly, looking at Jael to see if she was going to help him out reasoning with Sunshine.

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Jael smiled at Dowlson and it immediately shattered all hope he’d had of reasonableness from her. It was the smile that Loki gave Odin right before he slipped the collar off the wolf. “I’ve had to drop all my classes with Stanford to work at the Crush,” she said with that smile. “So I’m free until mid-January, at least.”

As the doctors ingested that, Sunshine asked, “How long is that?”

“Well, its August 21st, so all of September, October, November and December,” Jael counted out loud to let him follow, “and fifteen days in January, so-”

“Four months and twenty-five days,” Sunshine said eagerly. “One hundred and forty-seven days!”

Jael grinned at his delight with the number. It just seem huge to a guy who’s only been around for about a day, effectively, she mused. “Something like that,” she agreed, feeling the warmth of his skin though she wasn’t even touching him. She pulled herself out of the reverie of luxuriating in his aura and turned to the doctors. “I’ll be around at least that long, maybe longer depending on what I can work out. I’m not leaving him to the wolves.”

“There are no wolves in the Rashoud Facility,” Jia said, her voice a bit sharper than it had been. “We’re all interested in helping Sunshine.”

Jael grumbled to herself, even as she changed her tactical approach. “I’m sure that everyone here has his best interests at heart,” she said in her most reasonable voice. “I’m going to be here in case anyone decides that they have their best interests at heart. I will protect him and make sure that people aren’t going to abuse him, until he’s got the life experience to take care of himself.”

“Can I have a word with you privately?” Jia said quickly.

“No. Whatever you want to chide me for or tell me you can tell me in front of Sunshine,” Jael said, her arm tightening around him a bit more. This was escalating and she needed to bring it down. “Look, if you’re worried I’m going to take advantage of him, forget it. He’s not like that to me; I care about him as a person. I might be a big nova-ho, but I’m not going to risk hurting Sunshine when I care about him by giving him a jolly fuck.”

Dowlson quietly rested his face in his hand, sighing through his nose. The two nova women glared at each other but their stare was broken when Sunshine piped up, asking, “What’s a fuck?”

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Well, certain attitudes seemed revealed for certain, Donald noted. He himself was looking ahead faintly embarrassed and extra awkward once Sunshine/John started to verbally poke into the concept of sex. In any case, things seemed to devolve into a quiet pause for a long moment. A very painfully drawn out moment, Donald realized, and he quickly pulled out a tidbit from earlier in the conversation for the express purposes of ending it.

"Mmmm. Well," he took a finishing bite of his burger and tried to sound like a calm, moderating man as he rose, "I'm going to practice and work with my abilities in the training room. You did say John, that you wanted to control your powers to keep from hurting people right? That's the place to do it. Perhaps I'll be seeing you there later. Have a good day anyway."

With that, he got up, smiling politely like a mediator at his best, and departed, dumping his tray in the cleaning rack and walking off.

When he got into the Rashoud training room, he moved off to a corner to start with some warm-up stretches for preparation. And surreptitiously, activate a fraction of his newly found bodyshifting powers. The purpose: to... increase the development of a particularly organ and related portions of the body. A bit, not too noticeable or excessive.

Just in case big dicks wasn't a turn on for Jael.

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The prevailing attitude at the table was that Donald had the right idea in going down to the assessment and training area. Even John, with his insatiable curiousity about why everyone seemed to clam up about the word 'fuck', brightened a little as Dr Randalls told him they were going to work to find out his abilities now, then they'd work on teaching him to control them. As they led him down to the reinforced sub-basement levels, telling him that this area had been specially made so that he wouldn't hurt anyone as long as he was careful. Vitrium and titanium-steel reinforced cinderblock walls should be enough to hold a fledgling nova's powers at bay long enough for the training team, consisting of the two paraphysicians, a technician to monitor the equipment, and a nova with some empathic control abilities, to get control of the situation.

First they told him about his node, about how it was a sensor and an absorber of quantum energies that empowered him and enabled the massive changes in his cellular structure. They taught him to feel it as it worked and to treat it like a muscle that flexed when he wanted it to. Power-wise they started with flight, as it was the safest and most 'fun' of the abilities John had exhibited so far. They found that, as with walking and talking, John was a quick study. Naturally fearless as only someone who hadn't suffered could be, he took to the aerial 'track' with ease, directing himself through the hoops and markers like a fish through water. He treated it very much like a game, laughing delightedly every time they shifted the course a little and he was able to adjust in time.

Then they moved to the small firing range, a nova with energy-projection abilities working with John to show him how to focus himself so that the cutting beam of heat would come when he wanted it to and, more importantly, only when he wanted it to. Of more import to the white coats was the composition and temperature of the beam, which instruments estimated to be around 40,000 degrees Fahrenheit at point of contact, but focused somehow so that it didn't set fire to the air in the room. Further tests proved that the beam wasn't fire, but concentrated solar radiation: UV, IR and microwaves coherently formed into a tight beam capable of vaporising it's way through even vitrium panels.

Next up was the testing of his cellular structure, which the doctors had noticed was exceptionally active with strong nuclear forces. They swiftly determined that Sunshine's cells reacted to any incoming attack by forming tighter connections and utilising tiny gravitic pulses to absorb and cushion the blow. Though they didn't actually test it directly (firing guns at people isn't really a scientific approach), the Facility's instruments estimated that in real terms Sunshine's body could probably withstand a rifle bullet with at worst minor bruising. However, when he fuelled his cells with extra amounts of energy, the amount of trauma he could withstand went up considerably. Dowlson theorised that this had been a necessary enhancement during Sunshine's eruption, enabling him to take the energy of the explosion to survive a blast that had killed tens of thousands.

Sunshine listened intently as they explained all of this to him, his blue eyes intent on their faces as he absorbed the knowledge the way his body absorbed energy.

"You may well be able to do more than we've found here today." Dowlson told him with a smile. "In fact, there's some anomalies with where the absorbed energy goes during those low-voltage taser tests we were running that I would like to chase down. But I have enough data for today, and you've been an exceptional subject John. Thank you." It was obvious that the professor was an old-school gentleman doctor who was doing something he loved, rather than something that paid well.

"Can I train some more?" Sunshine asked, smiling back at the professor. He liked the older man, who was kind and smart and didn't try to tell John where he should live or who he should live with. Doctor Jia was... well, she liked to tell people what they should do. She had helped him, so John didn't want to think badly of her, but still, he didn't like her very much as a person.

"Of course." Dowlson nodded. "Just be careful, like we've discussed. Nick here will take you to the main training area." He indicated the energy-projector, a fire-wielder. "This place here is just for new novas, until they learn not to go off at half-cock." he explained with a smile. "That means to do something silly or rash. Remember, if you start to feel weak or dizzy, stop and just sit down where there's plenty of light."

"Okay." John said, then looked at Jael before looking back at the professor. "What happens after I'm done training? Do I go back to Jason's place with Jael?"

"Well-" Jia began quickly, but Dowlson cut her off.

"I don't see why not. But please, could you come back tomorrow? We have a lot of tests still to do, and it all helps you as well as us."

"Sure." Sunshine smiled brightly. "I want to find out more too." He looked at Jael. "Shall we go and see the main training area? I'd like to fly some more and try to light a candle without melting it." The candle exercise had been tricky: using the merest fraction of his power, John had had to try and light the wick of the candle without so much as melting the stick. The first attempt had led to vaporised wax everywhere. The subsequent ones had been better... but there was still a long way to go before Sunshine could light the candle without it sagging slightly. An idea occurred to him and he looked wide-eyed at the professor.

"Can I take some candles home to practice?"

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“Oh, um,” Dowlson said, blinking and looking a little uncomfortable. Sunshine had already learned that the doctor looked like that when he was uncomfortable with denying him something that might progress his skills. The nova wasn’t surprised when he added, “No, John, let’s be sure of your control before we encourage you to do this outside of a controlled environment.”

“Besides, you can get candles lots of places,” Jael said; when she caught the glare from Dr. Randalls, she amended, “But only after Professor D here says it’s okay.”

“Thank you for the vote of confidence,” Dowlson said dryly.

“No problem,” Jael said with a smirk. She took Sunshine’s hand and floated a few inches off the ground. “Let’s fly, Sunshine, my only Sunshine.”

“Why did you sing the last three words?” he asked as they rose in the air.

“Because it’s a song,” Jael said, laughing. Grinning, she started to sing, “You are my Sunshine, my only Sunshine, you make me happy, when skies are gray…” By the time she was done, Sunshine was singing the chorus with her as they looped around the aerial obstacle course.

“What is your song?” Sunshine asked her.


“The Jael song!”

When she stopped laughing, she hugged him and said, “There is no song with my name in it.”

“That is sad,” Sunshine told her with such utter seriousness that she had to laugh again.

She realized that they were very close to one another, still flying in tandem. Her hands were on his shoulders and his hands still rested on her sides, just over her short ribs. They were close enough to kiss and Jael felt her blood rise in her cheeks as she eased back from him. “You’ll have to make one then,” she told him as she sought a distraction.

And there was Donald. Jael darted down and stopped about ten feet above him. From this angle, he could see that her baggy sweatpants proclaimed her ass as ‘juicy’. “Can you fly? Care to come with us?”

Click to reveal..
For those of you who need a refresher:

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It also has a male voice come in on the last chorus, which is cool. laugh

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Yes, Donald, my friend, such an apt description. That is a juicy ass indeed...

Damn it. That voice in his head was no doubt that of the devil on his left shoulder. When the angel that perched on the right would show up, he didn't know.

Besides, he wasn't actually looking at Jael's junk in the trunk, but the angle and his enhanced vision could supply the slogan all the same. In any case, he blurred that noticeable area from his vision so he couldn't see her ass or the slogan. That worked.

But all this had happened in a moment or so, and Jael was asking her question. And he wasn't really looking in any of the wrong places now, was he?

"Technically, I can't fly," Donald began, noticing Sunshine's slight look of disappointment, then added with a toothy grin, "But, where there's a will, there's a way. I have a way. Watch closely."

He took that moment to close his eyes and focus on his new-found inner power to direct his body's evolution. He focused on the bones, changing and lightening them for more aerodynamic capacity, adjusting the muscles to match. And then, he developed the wings.

It made Sunshine and Jael's eyes widen, Sunshine looking on curiously, Jael more shocked, being used to novas but seeing something a bit different than usual. From Donald's back, something seeming to push upward through the shirt, and they did, cutting neat holes in the fabric. Yet, it was quickly clear that wings very much the kind of a bird, emerged and spread out, wingtips first, then the rest of the wings.

There was a secondary layer of wingspan below the main wings, but that was hardly noticeable considering they were all colored the same vivid, deep emerald green. They were somewhat rounded and moderately-sized, but the color made up in magnificence.

"Well..." Donald admitted as his eyes opened, "I'll need eufiber sooner or later."

Then he leaped fairly high into the air with a smooth, nimble bound, and his wings flapped. Now he was smoothly hovering at Jael's level, wings pushing him up slightly higher though.

"Ready when you are."

Click to reveal..

(07:08:05) ChatBot: (Donald) logs into the Chat.

(07:08:46) (Donald): Stamina + Bodyshift roll

(07:09:10) (Donald): Stamina 4 + M-Stamina 2 + Bodyshift 2

(07:09:20) (Donald): Mega duce

(07:09:31) ChatBot: (Donald) rolls 2d10 and gets 9,7.

(07:09:44) (Donald): regular dice

(07:10:18) ChatBot: (Donald) rolls 6d10 and gets 3,4,7,6,6,3.

(07:10:29) (Donald): 5 sux laugh

(07:14:17) (Donald): Taking: Wings x2, Ultralight Muscoskeletal System, Winglets x2

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John's eyes widened in amazement as Donald underwent his transformation and leapt into the air to hover near Jael. With scarcely a pause the glowing youth swept down and examined the winged nova, his expression fascinated as he watched the wings beat, taking in the steady counterbeat of the smaller winglets. He looped around, then under, then over Donald like a dolphin circling a swimmer.

"That's amazing!" he exclaimed with a delighted laugh. "And so pretty." he reached out as if to touch a wing, then drew back as a thought occured. "Doesn't that hurt?" he asked, deep blue eyes concerned for the red-haired man.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Jael had less concern and less personal space. She reached out and brushed one of the pretty wings. "So, if you molt," she said with a smile, "do the feathers stay? And if so, can I have some?"

Surprised, Donald asked, "For what?"

Jael grinned and did a somersault in mid-air. It added exuberance to her laughed remark, "For making a head-dress, of course! Do you know how hard it is to find feathers in that size. Especially pretty ones. Usually they're just a uniform brown color."

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Donald grinned amused, and it didn't waver when he regarded a concerned Sunshine. "It feels like a natural extension of my body. No hurts at all. Unfortunately for Jael, I have full control. No molting, when I'm done I'll just land and make these things go away. Unless of course, Jael was willing to pay an obscene amount of money for the feathers..."

She playfully swatted at him for the joke, and Donald pushed himself back with a beat of the great gorgeous wings, laughing too.

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Sunshine laughed as well, though more because the sound was infectious that because he recognised the humor in Donald's statement. Still smiling he did his best to copy Jael's somersault, with only a slight wobble betraying his lack of experience in aerobatics. He laughed again and looped around Jael and Donald, clearly at home in the air already.

"Let's fly then!" he said exuberantly, his aura flaring as he sped away from the other two, grinning as he looked back to see if they were following. The two 'older' novas smiled and took off after him.

* * * * * *

"It's a mistake." Randalls said firmly as she followed Professor Dowlson into his office and shut the door behind her.

"The mistake, Doctor, would be in trying to cage and isolate him. It's plain he's developed a strong attachment for Ms Carver-"

"That would be easy enough to break. He's a rational thinking being, not a duckling." Jia snorted, folding her arms and glowering at him.

"-And it's plain enough that he has a mind of his own, Doctor." Dowlson continued as if she'd not spoken, his eyes hardening. "That boy out there has decided that he wants to stay with Jael Carver. True, we could push the issue, but that would create bad feeling, and I personally prefer to handle people with more finesse and consideration than legalistic strongarming."

"That boy is a walking solar fusion reactor. He could be a catastrophe waiting to happen, Professor. He nearly sliced the top off an apartment building in a fit of temper-"

"For which he was very contrite, as I understand it. And he is training hard. He's a good lad who genuinely wants to control his gifts, and as yet he hasn't harmed anyone." Professor Dowlson looked up from his paperwork at Randalls. "You'll have to do better than that to get me to sign off on giving him the Ivory Tower treatment, my dear."

"How about this, then?" Jia tried not to flush with anger at Dowlson's old-school condescension. "He has no memories of who he used to be. No memories of life as a human being. No perspective on how far above them he really is. He has zero grounds to find commonality between baseline humanity and himself. He's a walking worm on a hook for the Teragen, and-"

"And if we try to constrain or control him as you suggest, the Teragen will certainly take note, and he will certainly be more receptive to their agenda." Dowlson cut her off again, his tone hardening. "Enough, Doctor. This is getting us nowhere. We can require that Sunshine - charming monicker that - attend a school with his baseline peer group. That should help him get some perspective on what life amongst the run of humanity is like." Dowlson seemed to warm to that idea. "A good school, of course. One that will not object to a nova student, though with his prodilogical index, I think the young man will have his work cut out picking one from all the offers he'll receive." Jia started to speak, and Dowlson lifted a hand.

"It's the best solution, Doctor. We can coordinate with the Canadian authorities, set him up somewhere local so we can keep an eye on him, at least until he graduates. He'll integrate with young men and women his own age, hopefully forming friendships that will, if you'll pardon the term, 'humanise' him." The professor sat down at his desk and looked up at Jia, who was considering the proposal and nodding slightly, agreeing. "Good. Then that shall be my recommendation, doctor."

"Alright." Jia said with a nod and a sigh, turning to go.

* * * * * * *

"Come on!" Sunshine shouted as he came up behind Jael and Donald, lapping them once again on the course. He laughed like a child as he circled around them both in an infinity loop.

"How fast can you go, anyway?" Donald asked, shaking his head. John stopped in mid-air as he thought that over, drifting slightly so that Donald's wings didn't hit him as the shapeshifter went past.

"I don't know." he declared, wide-eyed with curiousity. He eyed the expansive indoor course. "I don't think I should go faster in here, though. I might not be able to turn and I'll hit the wall." He looked at the walls consideringly.

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