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Aberrant: Children of Quantum Fire - Lunar Excavations [4.1]

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Time Period: Slightly after events of Body in Motion

While Alexandra works on the submarine as a mobile headquarters it was also possible for the suggestion of Epiphany to be worked out. Showing him the place on the moon with her mind, Warren is easily able to transport the two of them there for a look. It was old and abandoned, the air inside was dry and a bit dead, almost like a tomb, but otherwise it was still airtight and as Epiphany remembered.

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Epiphany bit her lower lip as nostalgia flooded her mind. She blinked away tears as she picked a little rock doll up from the floor. "This was my home, before. We lived here, my parents and Uncle Spike. Mostly Uncle Spike carved it out but my father designed it. I've tried so hard to keep from thinking about them. I miss them more . . . more than I can say. I hope they're still safe."

Pip's voice trailed off as her eyes drank in the familiar proportions of the living area. The twenty foot ceilings and large open rooms with furnishings carved out of the very rock of the moon. The cushions and mattresses a bit dusty and worn but still intact in this sealed environment. The slightly seared curtains that suffered in her early attempts to walk hid the lack of windows. The base rock of the moon painted cheerful colors with fantastical creatures smiling down from small alcoves were her mother's touch. The kitchen area didn't actually have a working stove but showed signs of having been used with natural flame. One room was difficult to determine a use, but Epiphany remembered when her mother had called a small volcano out of the dormant moon to heat the apartment and to bathe in. Her parent's headboard was made of old surf boards and her old cradle was lovingly carved from the rock of the walls in loving intricacy and still sat in the old nursery.

It could have held her younger siblings, but things had become dangerous here. The heat that was evident even two miles above on the surface of the moon was drawing hunters towards them. Pip had done the only thing she could think to do to keep them all safe. Silent tears slowly fell from her eyes and evaporated as they made their way down her smoldering cheeks as she remembered her decision. Trying to swallow past a knot in her throat she wondered again where they were, if they were safe, and if the time had come yet to remember their life here.

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This place was long dead... but clearly Pip had called it home. Maybe she'd even been born here. For a moment Warren let Pip cry and pretended not to notice, then he reached over and gripped her shoulder wordlessly saying she wasn't alone.

There were other things he thought they should cover, but they could wait. Warren asked, "What happened?"

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Epiphany shook her head, dashing the single remaining tear that hadn't evaporated from her intrinsic heat. She took a moment for a couple of deep breaths to find her center and calm.

"We lived here, we loved each other. In these rooms there was nothing that could hurt us and nothing we couldn't do together. I was safe here, away from other minds that would intrude on mine before I learned to keep myself separate. But it couldn't last. Nothing can last when people want to hunt you down and kill you just for living. And those are the nice ones."

"My mother was able to forget, time blurred her memory of that place. But the scientists minds are still alive in mine. I absorbed that evil before I was even born. Before I was born! Do you understand what I'm saying? I remember what a normal childhood is like, but not because I had one. Because I have the memories, entire, of so many people in my mind."

"I woke up in the womb, I stretched and felt my mother's terror. But more, her concern and love for me. And then, I was my mother. I knew her as she knew herself. I . . . She could feel me, was terrified of my touch on her mind. So I pulled back, inside myself."

"It felt like forever before I reached out again. But I was young, a few minutes feels like a lifetime and hours like an eternity. Next I stretched past her, past my mother. Even though she was afraid, she was safe, but I didn't know that."

"So many minds, I've never been able to count them, some running into the others with such pain you wouldn't believe. And then there were the sscciieennttiissttss. You never want to know what is in their minds, what evils Teragen exploits for it's 'research'."

"But it was in the past. Those lives had never touched here except in memories. They had never found us here." Epiphany started to shiver.

"They hadn't, until . . . We knew they were coming. I could feel them. I was more sensitive then. Maybe it was just that I was used to having so much space for my mine to stretch without encountering anyone but family. So I felt them coming. Their hate was . . . I don't understand how anyone can feel such hate!"

Pip shook her head, somehow lost in the memory but not in a flashback. "I screamed, I remember screaming. My father and Uncle Spike made my mother stay, she was pregnant again. But she was so mad she couldn't keep the fire inside. She was like a roaring fire, angry and frightened. I felt the moment Dad and Uncle Spike met the Hunters. I rode the minds of death and held the twisted fury of my loving family in my heart."

"Nothing was the same after that, it couldn't be. We wern't safe here. I knew, I knew what they didn't know. That the hunters were after me. They would kill my parents, but it was me they were looking for. They had found the files from that horrid place of science and pain. They didn't know my mother was pregnant. They . . . My family could be made safe. They could have a chance. My sibling, still too early in the womb to awaken to the world, my sibling could have the happy and loving family."

"I knew what I had to do, to keep them safe. I had to keep them safe. Because . . . what is life if they arn't safe? You understand, don't you?" Pip turned to Warren, her eyes blind with tears. Her voice almost a whisper, "Please say you understand. Please . . . I did the right thing . . . the only thing. Didn't I?"

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Warren said comfortingly, "You did the right thing, be sure about that..." and then replayed what she'd said in his head several times to figure out what exactly she'd done. He liked Pip. He trusted her and was sure she wouldn't have done wrong. His mind flinched away from facing it directly.

She'd done what she could to keep her mom and unborn sibling 'safe'... knowing they'd all die in a few moments. She could absorb minds... so she'd absorbed theirs. What do you do when your defenses have failed and the only mercy is murder?

So much pain. Something was missing from the story, she should have died... no... Traveler must have teleported in and saved her.

Warren shook his head at the pain and horror of it and said, "You did what you could for your family, with only terrible choices you picked the least bad. Please. Don't blame yourself. Blame the people who handed you that choice." Pip was his favorite sister but Warren very much wanted to look away from the scene his mind was painting.

And this was close to what Warren had originally wanted to talk about. He added carefully, "Pip... if you knew exactly where and when a mother hunter team would be, say two novas and three baselines, could you read the baselines without hurting yourself and without anyone noticing?"

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It was a good thing Pip wasn't reading Warren at the moment, she'd have recoiled in horror at the direction of his thoughts. But his words were comforting and she allowed them to calm her.

At his question, she paused and thought. "Ah . . . I don't know. I haven't tried anything like that in . . . a very long time. I don't like reading people without their permission, it's . . . it's like rape. But if I needed to, if it meant saving someone, I would try. But if they could tell I was there . . . I don't know. Before Apotheosis people could feel when I was in their minds. Now . . . I haven't tried so . . . maybe?"

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More than willing to stop looking at that past, Warren nodded, that was about what he'd been expecting. She was new to her power just like he was new to his, the difference being his future self had given him some clues.

Warren said, "Saving people is the way to put it. Somewhere out there..." Warren waved to where the Earth was "...right now mother hunters are at work. If they're not killing someone right now it's only because they've been so successful. There should be tens of thousands of us, instead there's a handful. Every one of us lost our original family. Without Uncle Shen none of us would be alive."

"The mother hunters need to die. Justice, vengeance, but more importantly, public safely. They're murdering children and furthering this slow moving holocaust, you put down rabid dogs. But killing a squad of mother hunters is like killing ants. Somewhere there's a queen who will make more."

"When our sibs saved Eric and Zia, they put down a squad of them. Two novas, and three baselines. We know where this happened, we know when."

"And... I could take you there."

"We could be in orbit right about them, say a thousand miles away, looking right at them a minute or two before they died. I don't want to try to change history. They're going to die, but maybe you could find out who sent them first."

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Epiphany's eyes went wide. "I . . . " She shuddered violently. Taking a deep breath. "I . . . you don't know what it's like, to ride a death like that. It . . . it changes you, eats your soul. I can do it, but . . . let's see if I can scan unnoticed. Then we could go earlier and . . . I could be out before . . . each death kills me a little, I don't want any more of them, I don't know how many more I can carry."

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Eager to spare his sister any further pain, Warren said, "Let's skip the whole death part. So... push everything back. We get there a half hour before the fight started, we bug out five minutes before the others showed up. Cora didn't see us, so that must be what happened."

Warren thought about that and placed the events in his head so he could jump to places, then he said, "But first let's see if you can read some random people without them noticing. Shall we go visit a mall?"

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Epiphany started to nod, then paused. "With the way everyone reacted to me after I changed, do we dare risk that many people? I'm still not sure what I did to turn it off." She sighs, "There's so much I don't understand about myself anymore. It's hard not to wish I was with my parents, they always seemed to know what to say and how to help me."

Shaking her head, "If wishes were horses we'd be knee deep in manure. Before we go too far on this tangent. I'm presuming that since we're talking time travel here, there's no real need to rush at this point. Why don't we start small. I'd rather try just one or two people first, try to keep from having half a city react like everyone did back on the island the other day. Besides, it's not like I'm not noticeable. The last thing we need is for something to go wrong and a security video of a winged cat girl to end up in the media."

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Warren grunted in acknowledgement/agreement and looked thoughtful. Pip right, it was easy for him to forget how she stood out. Warren studied Epiphany and then the air two feet from her. He could take both of them 'between' warps, that was easy. But... why stop there?

Create a warp with the entrance and exit a few feet from their right and left. Then do the same forward/back and up/down. Set the warps to capture and forward only light... effectively they wouldn't exist. There'd be a null zone as far as light was concerned.

And they'd be blind.

No... oh. Capture and forward 95% of the light, let 5% in so they could still see but don't let that out through any of the gates. From the outside they'd be invisible, but they'd still be able to see.

Sounded good... maybe it'd work.

Warren said, "Look for me and tell me if you can see me", stepped onto a surf-gate, and then tried to set up others to redirect light.

Epiphany pointed at him and said, "You've turned blue."

Warren tried again and floated to his left.

Epiphany pointed at him and said, "Red."

Warren tried yet again and moved more to the left.

Epiphany pointed at him but said, "Better. I can still tell, but it's harder."

Warren said, "It's hard and I'm not good at it. But if we're outside baseline senses, that's probably enough. The odds of running into another nova in some outback office or whatever in a middle sized city are slight. I'll extend it to you and let's go."

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Epiphany still didn't know where they were going, but she shrugged. "Okay. But so far as here is concerned, we're good with it as a back-up base? We'll want to get Alex here in a suit at some point - or just an O2 line should be enough. That's if she ever emerges from sub building. So she can see what we need to get air moving here again. I know there's got to be some equipment in one of the storage rooms, but it hasn't been run in years and probably needs some serious work."

As she talks, Pip steps over to Warren. "Here's hoping we don't get ourselves in too much trouble fiddling around like this."

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Warren grabbed Pip's hand and attuned her so she could stand on the 'surf-board'. Pip noticed they faded, Warren had made both of them intangible as well. Another gate opened in front of them and the board went through.

The two emerged perhaps thirty thousand feet above some city. In the distance was a larger skyline of buildings.

Warren replied, "Hello suburbia. We're outside Chicago but I don't remember the name. And yeah, that moon stop looks great as a back up. We should plan for worse but I think we'd only need it for a few minutes. One quick warp up there then it could be a staging area."

Warren looked around for a strip mall or similar target of opportunity and reflected that Pip wasn't talking about them getting in trouble here and now. Time Travel was serious stuff. There were boat loads of reasons to only want to use it for a few days and not... NOT try stupid stuff like killing Hitler.

Warren spotted a series of fast food joints and decided a McDonald's would be perfect. The two rocketed down. En route Warren asked, "On a side note, any idea if you're space worthy?"

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Epiphany smiled as the wind ruffled her hair. She had been cooped up for too long and hadn't had a chance to really stretch her wings in quite a while. Not that she was now, but it felt good to be flying.

"Oh yes, we used to go exploring all the time. I would usually hitch a ride with Dad until we got where we were going, I don't fly so fast, but some of the moons of Jupiter are really quite interesting. The one full of caves was something of a surprise but we had lots of fun there. I miss those trips. I just can't get the speed up on my own to make the trip or I'd have been out and about alot. The silence in space is so relaxing."

Pip fell silent as they reached their destination. Her expression a bit worried. Taking a deep breath, "I really hate doing this. It's such a violation. I wish there was a better way." But she shook her head and gritted her teeth. "I can do it, though. We need to know and there's not another way. Take us in."

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Warren agreed, "Space is the one place I can really focus. It's a little better now, but it's also like, worse. I think faster but there's a lot more to see." Warren gave a 'can't describe it' shrug. He added, "Remind me to take you to Jupiter Two. If you liked Jupiter then you'll love the sequel."

A few hundred feet above the busy street with the golden arches Warren and Pip slowed down and then drifted in front of the picture window. It wasn't rush hour but there were still a few employees and customers drifting about.

Warren sent, No reflection. Right, we're not really here. Pick someone, or if you want we can drift through the wall and get really close.

If Warren had any ethical quibbles over teaching his sister how to mind-rip people he didn't let them show.

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Taking a deep breath, then another, then struggling not to keep going with deep breaths and hyperventilation Pip shakes her head. "Here is fine."

Epiphany focuses. She had always been able to read the people around her, even before she was born. But she didn't like doing it and kept that part of herself shut up tight behind thick walls. Slowly she pulled the walls down, stretching her mind like a muscle.

Pip looked over the restaurant. A couple mothers sat chatting while their children played. A few construction workers were in line waiting to order. And the mostly teen aged staff looked apathetic behind the counter.

Epiphany did NOT want to read the construction workers. Teen aged fast food employees weren't much better. That left the mothers and the children. Children would be safer, but Pip couldn't bring herself to touch their minds, afraid that they would feel her touch and be damaged for life.

Taking a deep breath she reached out to a young mother. Lightly brushing into the woman's surface thoughts, Pip felt through her strain of consciousness. The woman didn't react to her touch, Epiphany couldn't read any discomfort or awareness. Steeling her nerve, Pip reached deeper, combing through the woman's thoughts and memories, allowing the information to register just long enough to know she was pulling the information then filing it away.

Pip sighed as she pulled out of the woman's mind, her victim unaware. She almost turned to Warren to leave but a thought stopped her. This was one baseline, one who might be brain numb. Pip couldn't be sure with this one sample that she truly couldn't be felt.

Epiphany reached out again. A quick riffling of the woman's surface thoughts and Pip stiffened. Warren could feel the normal smoldering heat she normally emitted increasing. Pip was always hot enough to curl normal paint if she leaned against a wall. Now she was hot enough that had her clothing not been eufiber, they might be smoking. A soft hiss of rage escaped her lips as her eyes narrowed.

That the woman allowed herself to be abused Epiphany found horrifying. That the woman knew what her husband was doing to their daughters and did nothing infuriated Pip. Without conscious thought her mind focused, narrowed and in a lash of anger she placed a thought. Pip had never thought to even attempt something like this, and would never have believed herself willing. But now she did it without thinking. You can not allow yourself to be abused. You have to speak out, tell someone, find help. Go to a woman's shelter, take your daughters, do it now. Never let anyone touch them like that again and do everything you can to help them heal. You have to tell what happened, file reports and press charges. This is not okay, never again allow yourself to be abused and don't let your children ever suffer like that again. You will spend the rest of your life trying to right this wrong that you allowed to be inflicted upon them. Like a whip her will laid across the woman's in scarcely more than an instant.

Pip reeled as she realized what she had done. Her knees weak and her head light she struggled to stay upright. As she was coping with what she had just done, a flurry of movement and voices in the restaurant signaled the activity of the woman as she gathered her children and moved to leave.

Click to reveal..
I don't have my books to reference dice rolls but since this is a fic I figured it's okay without. Please let me know if those rolls need to be made and I'll edit accordingly.
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Warren watched Pip and he was pretty sure she was focusing in on someone. She got hotter, although Pip was usually pretty hot. wink She might have been focused in on that woman, or maybe one of her children, or maybe someone in a different room.

No screams. No shouts. No wild looking around and asking what was going on. Just a normal day at McDonald's. Warren shifted his gaze down and noticed the grass under them was growing faster. He'd guess roughly the same rate as his hair did. Looked like going through the big "A" hadn't changed that. Plants growing and the hair what he had left of mom. The 3rd eye and his powers presumably came from the other side.

Pip shifted, stiffened, got a lot more focused, and looked pissed. She'd found something. Warren refocused and noticed... nothing. Still no screams. Odds were that they hadn't found an agent of Project Pro or something else big league. Pip hissed and looked off balance. Or had they?

Warren moved both of them up five stories and supported Pip with his flight. He asked with serious concern, "How was it?"

He hadn't noticed anything, but if the normal crap inside a normal person's mind was a serious issue then maybe this was just a bad idea. No way he'd put her in danger, they'd find another way if they had to.

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Seriously concerned, Warren looked at Epiphany then back at the McDonald's. He couldn't hear anything out of the ordinary. A brief check at the Quantum level also showed nothing, just the two of them and a group of baselines. He checked his own timeline and didn't see it ending or in danger of ending or anything similar.

Warren looked back at Epiphany and said, "As far as I can tell, nothing. So I guess that's my question, 'Pip, what did you just do?'"

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Epiphany shook her head. "I don't know. I was . . . I was reading the women. One of them . . . it just upset me so much. I felt myself react, but . . . I don't know. I just sort of," Pip pauses as she watches the woman, her confused children in tow, rush out of the McDonalds and into their car. The other woman, similarly confused, manages to make it out in time to see the car pull out and drive away.

"I think I just told her to go press charges against her husband. And . . . I think she's doing it. I . . . I didn't know I could . . . I'd never have meant to do that, I . . . I just . . ." Epiphany looks lost and confused. Her words a whisper, "How could I do that, how could I . . . it's like slavery. I am sorry, I am so sorry, I . . . I shouldn't be out here, I shouldn't be doing this. If I can't control myself . . . how can anyone have this kind of power? I . . . " She falls to her knees, sobbing, "I'm not . . . not strong enough . . . not for this . . . I . . . if I do this . . . how can I ever . . . how can anyone . . . trust me. Even . . . even you all . . . I . . . I can't . . ."

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Five stories in the air Warren went to his knees beside Pip and hugged her, saying, "Shhhh... it's ok."

Warren considered, Was this a problem? The answer was pretty clear, Not really. Pip was still his favorite sister. She still hit the 'trust' radar pretty hard. On the scale of problems they faced, meddling in an abusive relationship didn't rate.

After a moment he added, "You found a problem and you fixed it. She'll be better off for it, and I doubt this is ignoring free will. No one wants to be in an abusive relationship. I still trust you. It will be fine, she'll be better off."

Pip really was too nice a person for her own good. When it came time to eliminate some of the problems in the world Warren wouldn't invite her along. It'd get ugly, she felt things too deep.

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Epiphany was past the point of speaking, she just burred her head on Warren's shoulder, her arms around him and cried. Her mental voice wasn't stopped by the tears, however. 'I'm so sorry, really I am. Even if she's better off, who am I do decide that? And if I think this is okay, what about the next time? Where will I stop? I didn't even think before I changed her. Changed her! Sure she didn't want to be in an abusive relationship, but she loved him and she stayed, even after. . .'

Pip shudders, You don't want to know what she knows. What that man did to their daughters. She hated it, but she let him because she was so afraid he would leave her. How can she think like that?! But she did. Do you see, I changed the way she thinks, the way she acts! And I did it without thinking about it, without looking at the consequences. And without paying any attention to the fact that she is a free woman with rights who doesn't deserve to be yanked around by my will.

'And you say you still trust me? I don't know how you can, unless I'm still influencing you. I don't want to do that, I never wanted to do that. But I don't know how to stop, Warren. I just . . . I don't know what to do. I never know what to do and every time I try it seems like I make things worse. I should just go and see if I can't join my family, where ever they are!'

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Join her family? Warren was pretty sure that meant 'die'. Hopefully she wasn't serious but plainly she was upset.

Warren held Pip and sent, You're Epiphany, and part of the burden of your power is you have to decide these things. You have the power, that gives you the responsibility. Most of the time you should leave well enough alone. This is a brand new power, a brand new situation, maybe you screwed up.

But do you seriously want to change her back?

Warren let Pip digest that then added, And as for trust, yeah, I trust you. This is me, and you, and this isn't a new situation anymore.

The real question is whether you can read the mind of a monster without hurting yourself. I know parts of my mind are ugly. I think everyone has parts like that but... I have to think our powers magnify things. Warren mentally sighed. He didn't like to talk about it, but this was Pip and sooner or later she'd find out.

Further he did trust her, and more than that, he needed her to trust herself. A hair reluctantly he added, So... let's really test you, and prove to you that you can trust yourself. How about you deep probe me?

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That sobered Epiphany up rather quickly. Blinking through eyes thick with tears she pulls back to look Warren in the eyes. "I . . . I don't know, I don't know if that's a good idea. What if I hurt you?" Defiantly unsure of her power, Pip was, as always, terrified of hurting these people she cared so much about. Even if she had only recently made the connection they had all made so much earlier, before she even thought of them as family, she would have died before she hurt any of them.

And there was this little, quite part of her that suddenly found a voice. This part that was terrified of this idea. What had been a subconscious niggling was now clawing it's way to the surface. Because if Pip read Warren that deeply, she would see what he thought of her. . . What if he didn't like her?

Her face went even more pale, her eyes huge and terrified. What if that thing happened again? If Warren didn't feel what she thought he should feel . . . Epiphany would NEVER want to change him like that, but what if it happened anyway, if she couldn't control it.

The thought so terrified her that she recoiled. Without a word Pip dove off Warren's surfboard, her wings snapping open to catch her as she turned the dive into a soar. Not thinking about it, she fled. The world blurred by below her, but Epiphany didn't notice, running, as she was, from her own thoughts.

Click to reveal..
Flight 2 - Hypermovement 2
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Warren said, "Hey!?" and tried to follow Pip.

Mentally he grumbled to himself, Smooth move. And why is it that the expert in long distance Warps is so amazingly slow? If I Warp in front of her she'll just pass me again. I could call for help... but let's hold off, she might shut down the family network.

This has the potential of attracting attention. Both of us are huge quantum beacons, Chicago has other novas.

Wait... how about instead of Warp, I do something else? Hello, Mr. Temporal Manipulator. Can't you slow down time?

Warren flexed a mental muscle and the world slowed down.

Interesting... I'm faster because the world is slower. Not sure if I'm faster than Pip. Hmm... I wonder if I have any other gears on this thing?

Zoom!!! Now where is she? There. Captain! Quantum Source off the port side! All hands... um... now what?

Click to reveal..
Enhanced Movement at least matches her speed and Temporal Acc makes him faster

With difficulty Warren started to catch up... then he dropped back and just followed, content to make sure she didn't hurt herself and hoping she'd calm down.

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Epiphany had been heading mostly west when she started flying and didn't veer much. It wasn't until she noticed Cedar Rapids under her that she began to falter. As long as there had been fairly rural ground below, Pip had been able to put aside the thought that she might be seen. As she approached another large city, she realized what she was doing. And how fast she was going.

The latter pulled her up quickly. Amazed at herself, she looked for somewhere secluded to land. Spotting a wooded park, Pip took almost no time landing and then she just stood there, stunned and thinking.

She finally had the speed she had always bemoaned not having. Was able to travel fast enough to actually get places. She remembered her mother being so overwhelmed when by things shortly after her eruption that she would run away and sit on satellites to think. She also remembered her mother's consternation when she realized how much damage she was doing to the world's communication network.

Walking slowly, Pip finds an isolated bench and has a seat. Concrete bench, thankfully, there wasn't much damage her heat could do to it. It was less petulant than a satellite, but it would do.

But now that she was still, Epiphany couldn't help but think about what had caused her to run from Warren. Looking inside herself she was somewhat surprised. She honestly had been surprised by that reaction to his offer, that worry. Was it just that he was a friend, a brother? Somehow that didn't ring true. That was worrisome enough, but there was something more.

From the distance of the memories she held from others, Pip could see that these feelings were probably just a crush. But even with that distance, this was new, surprising, and strong. Why Warren, anyway? He was nice, sure, but it was Darrik who was always flirting, and she had seen him . . . That was not a memory she needed to relive, thank you.

But Warren had always been there, quietly accepting, actively supporting, encouraging and helping and listening. If she had to be inflicted with a first crush, Pip could have done worse, much worse. But what did this really mean for her? What did it really change?

Had Epiphany realized a couple weeks ago that she had a crush on . . . any of the family, it wouldn't have frightened her like it did now. Now she had changed, and with that change she could change others, make them do what she wanted, make them love her. The idea revolted her. Not only did she not want to do that to anyone, she especially didn't want to do that to Warren. If he didn't care for her, if he didn't think about her that way, that wasn't something she wanted to alter. She knew most first crushes were unrequited, and as much as she hated the horrid cliche of going through that teen angst, Pip knew it was part of growing up.

But knowing what she wanted, consciously, would that make a difference to the subconscious bit of herself that was so senselessly acting with these new feelings and powers? Could she trust herself to read Warren, or any of the others, and not change them? Pip wanted to think she could, but the idea that she might not be able to was deep and terrifying.

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Pip landed, Warren kept his distance and hovered. She settled in on a bench and Warren sat down on his board. This could take a while, but waiting wasn't a problem. As always, his senses would distract him if he let them. He could explore the universe right from this spot... but that would be a distraction now wouldn't it?

Warren eyed Pip and wondered if this counted as stalking. He was invisible, intangible, and enjoying watching her. So yeah, probably.

Truth was Pip could probably take care of herself. Him being worried about her might just be an excuse.


If she let herself take care of herself. Her ethics might get in the way.

Well, at a minimum she could fly away.

Oh. Yeah.

So... had he screwed up back there? With the whole deep probe idea? And where had that idea come from?

That... was an invitation to take things to a new level. For good, or for bad.

There was a good chance that she'd look deep inside of him and be horrified. Revolted.

Or... maybe not.

And which would be worse? Either way, one set of futures open and another set closed.

He could look into the future... :Sigh: No. The question was, what did he want to happen?

He liked Pip. A lot. And she was his sister. Was he really willing to risk what they currently had?

Sneak off. They could both pretend that none of this ever happened. He didn't make the offer, she didn't fly away. Maybe they'd go back in time, actually, probably they'd go back in time. If she screwed up in one of those baselines minds, they'd be dead before anyone noticed.

There. Battle tactics, planning, and everything is safe.

To be safe was to be sorry. Sometimes you have to dive into the sun and see what you found.

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Epiphany thought about her problem for a while, chasing her tail in endless circles. Finally she sighed, a decision made, though she didn't know if it was the right one. Reaching out to Warren, Pip was surprised to find his mind so close to her.

'I'm sorry. I . . . shouldn't have reacted like that. Well, maybe I should have, I needed to process some things, but my reaction was extreme. There is so much I'm afraid of right now, and I'm so tired of that fear. I . . . we need to talk, but I'm not sure how. I feel like all I ever do is apologize for my mistakes. And you always try to bolster my confidence and prop me up.'

'This deep probe scares me for a few reasons but I can't seem to shake the fact that I do need to test out my powers. But this new thing, where I change the way people think . . . I don't want to risk that happening. I don't want to do anything like that to you.'

'The only solution I can come up with to make sure I can't change you is to turn the scan into a variation on the link, make it two way. Then, you can see what I'm doing and stop me if I start getting lost in that part of my powers. But . . . there's not just my memories in here. And some of the people I carry around with me . . . there is so much darkness it can be overwhelming. I can try to wall them off, keep it just you and me, but this is new territory and I don't know what's possible. I might not even be able to make the scan a two way process. But if you're willing to try . . . I think I can do that.'

'I've been the weak link in the group for so long. I need to find my strength and I don't know how else to start.'

Pip was trembling slightly as she finished, her stomach in her throat and her eyes glittering. That the prospect terrified her was obvious to anyone who looked at her, but her mental voice was firm.

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Warren bought a little time to think by drifting in and settling so he was sitting in front of Pip.

Well... this raised all of the other issues but in spades. They'd take really good looks at each other and see what they'd see. Self discovery. Well, he'd already been willing to let her go in, so did this raise the stakes? What was the worst that could happen?

The worst? The worst would be a feedback loop. After they get deep in, someone gets horrified at the other, who in turn gets horrified that they're horrified, and then a low level mind war ensues, and they both end up vegetables. Or since she's the telepath and probably better at this, maybe just me.

OK... how about... create a Red Shirt. Send in a clone. No risk.

Right. The key issue here is Pip needs to trust herself, so announcing that you can't risk trusting her would clearly give her the help she needs.

And... put like that... ignore 'us', ignore what might happen to yourself. Putting Pip first... the best way to get her to trust herself was to trust her. Take a deep breath, and say yes.

Warren swallowed, reflected that the sun dive had been easier, then sent, Agreed.

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Epiphany startled slightly as Warren agreed. A hard swallow and she nodded before looking up into his eyes. Her completion pale, "You might want to dismiss your board, having it up when we do this . . . could get complicated."

"Are you sure you're ready for this?" Pip was sure his hesitation was because he didn't care to see into her mind, to be that close to her. And truth be told, she didn't blame him. She knew she wouldn't want to touch her own mind.

Click to reveal..
And I have no idea how to do what I suggested or if it's even possible. We'll need a Krull ruling here please and thank you.
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Epiphany had a great deal of telepathic power, she could do almost anything regarding the mind that she could imagine, but what she suggested here she didn't fully understand the implications of. Such a deep merger of minds might make untangling them again almost impossible, if she didn't manage it right. Once warren agreed, she would find the power to merge them two minds in sort of synergistic whole.

Click to reveal..

I'm ruling this is a technique of Telepathic Authority, it uses Wits + Telepathic Authority, you need 3 successes on this roll, to Merge Minds and essentially, it links both of you so that anything that can be done with telepathy can be done by either part of the link, by the choice of either partner, in essence she's giving up part of her control over her telepathy.. it will last Quantum + Telepathic Authority Hours (+1 hour for every 2 successes over the initial three required), sense this isn't one of the techniques of TP. Authority she has mastered yet, it costs 8 quantum to activate.

But, as a side effect, and cause I think this would be fun, sense this is her first time doing this, disengaging will be require a willpower roll, at a difficulty of 3 (Difficult)... that level of intimacy will create a subconscious desire to remain so connected, if either of you have affection for the other on any level. (this will become easier as she grows more accomplished.. difficulty 2 the second and 3rd time.. difficulty 1 in the future).. failing will require she wait to untangle their minds... until the duration runs out... which will allow her another willpower roll at the lowered difficulty.. if she fails she'll have to spend the quantum to maintain the connection.

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Taking a deep breath before her nerves ran out, Pip did a quick check on everyone else in the link, all at the island and safe. "I'm going to be dropping the link, don't panic, everything is okay. We should be home soon to reestablish." And with that she severed the network connections between the family.

A wry and very nervous smile, Epiphany stretches her hands out for Warren's. "Last chance, if you want to back out." When he places his hands in hers, she nods and closes her eyes.

Reaching her mind out she sets up a thin filament of connection between herself and Warren. Slowly she builds it thicker, deeper. Spinning strand after strand between them, anchoring her mind to Warren's in ever thicker paths until she can feel herself through him. Pip had never done anything like this before and for a moment she reveled in the bright clarity of connection, of being not only herself, but him as well.

For now she didn't touch his memories, waiting, hesitant, for his invitation.

Click to reveal..
Wits + TA: 6d10 → [8,4,10,4,7,3] = (36)


Mega Wits: 5d10 → [8,6,9,1,2] = (26)


I'll roll to unlink once we've rped the link.

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Now why do I think we’re going far too far on the first date?

Because you’re looking for reasons to not do this. Calm down. This is Pip. It will be ok. Seriously. Understand that, believe that, and step forward.

Warren nervously took Pip’s hand and let her in his mind sending "OK, let's do this." Pip started the merge.

Warren’s mind had a very different ‘feel’ than the baselines. They’d been gossamer like and moldable. His was denser and more substantial. He’d been flexing his will against a constant sensory barrage for years.

Like a boy dressing up in his finest for a first date (or perhaps more like a realtor showing off the best parts of a house), Warren buried any doubts or ugliness and tried to keep happy thoughts and his best memories at the front of his mind. Warren exulted in the thrill of discovery. Jupiter Two and The Sun Dive were his crowning triumphs and proudly shown. Oddly… there was unusual sensory input linked to each memory, sensory input Warren wasn’t even aware he added since it’d always been there.

Warren perceived time and space directly. Every thought, every memory was colored with this awareness. It was like a fish's awareness of water. What was new was ‘NOW’. ‘Now’ stretched infinitely in an infinity of directions, forward backward and sideways. ‘NOW’ was an event as much as a location. ‘NOW’ was a conscious choice, like a surfer on a surf board the wave of NOW started seconds before this instant.

In many ways, he and Pip were at the center of the universe.

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Epiphany's mind reeled for a moment as she touched the myriad of information laden in Warren's mental touch. It took a moment of assessing to find a balance, a place from which to work. Unconsciously, she reached into his memories to find a way to deal with the deluge of information. Once she had that, she could look at what he was showing her.

She lived his plunge into the sun, touched by it's power in the echo of his memories. As she allowed his thoughts to become part of her, their minds merged more deeply. As his memories of Jupiter Two flowed through her, Pip's own memories of Jupiter and it's moons sparked and raced to the fore.

Father smiled back, white and black fur spiky with frost in the cold of space. His tail reached back to tickle her nose as she clung to his waist, careful of his great white wings, while they flew towards the giant planet. The surf board under their feet white and gray, a normal board that had once surfed the oceans under his baseline feet. Pip's father's memories were in her mind and the sensation of surfing roared in her ears, lived in her body.

But then Pip's mother flew past. Radiant in the emptiness of the void, her body wreathed in flames, she rode astride a great fiery phoenix. The smile of support and encouragement she gave her daughter shone out of a face of such beauty as to take the breath away. Epiphany wished her mother could sing to her as they flew. Her mother's voice was more beautiful than anything and her dancing matched her song. But in space she could only hear their thoughts, taste their memories.

Then they were there, circling the planet and exploring the myriad moons. Uncle Spike joined them, stepping through the rock of their moon home to each moon on which they landed. He was, himself, made of stone and nearly ten foot tall. His mind worked slowly, his thoughts simple and young, though Pip could feel the depth of his intelligence walled away by the taint of his body.

She knew them all, her small family. Knew them because they were a part of her, had always been. She had never been a child, owning the minds of others before her birth. But she knew what it was to be care free and innocent through their memories. And especially through Spike, who loved beauty and kindness more than anything and who loved her with a power that would shake mountains from their foundations to keep her safe.

She knew through her mother the thrill of performing, of losing yourself to the muse and the call of the art. Knew, also, what it was to be adored beyond reason and how much her mother hated it. Knew what it was to be pursued by those who thought of nothing but lust.

And from her father Pip knew what it was to be alone. Both before and after eruption he was painfully shy. He felt himself to be different and stayed on the sidelines to avoid being hurt. She knew what it was to watch, with longing, as others enjoyed a life to which you could only aspire.

Pip knew them, she was them. And more. But now there was a moon to explore . . .

No, that wasn't right. Warren was here, was part, but this was not his memory, he did not belong. Then she remembered. Pulling away slightly Epiphany realized she had allowed herself to fall into the paths of memories long trod, taking him along for the ride. At least those had been happy memories.

Stall that, she didn't need to take him there, show him those. Instead she 'looked' to him to see where he wanted to go, they would explore together.

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Pip’s memories about Jupiter thrilled Warren and he drank it all in. It wasn’t just the exploration (although that was grand) but the closeness of her family. She’d had hers longer than he had his and she’d done more with them. He’d never met his father, his brother, or his sister, even though the last two were still alive. His memories of his mother were a bitter sweet treasure. He’d loved her and she’d meant the world to him, but she’d sacrificed so much for him… and even if she’d died for his brother, ultimately she died because of him.

These were deeper thoughts and a familiar pain. Warren didn’t like facing them but they were a fundamental part of him. They were on the run for years, just the two of them against the world. She was a healer with control over nature. He was a Warper who could see trouble coming. They could go anywhere, survive anywhere, and they’d leave just before the mother hunters showed up. An invincible combination… until Warren became so distracted by his expanding senses he couldn’t do his part.

The first person to catch them had been Traveler, that had been embarrassing but not fatal. They told themselves that the reason he'd slipped past Warren had been because he hadn't been hostile. But after that they moved a lot more often. Sooner or later it would catch up to them. Reality was much worse than what Warren had feared.

The Mother Hunters lured her out. She had two baseline children from before her eruption. They'd stayed with her ex-husband after the divorce. Warren's older brother was “accidently injured” and ended up in the news. She left Warren behind and went to save his brother… because she knew (correctly) Warren would get both of them killed. Warren had been upset over the situation and distracted by a flying insect, his last words to her had been incoherent. He’d seen trouble, if he’d explained himself better she might have seen her plan was a bad one. If he’d been less distracted in general she’d still be alive.

These memories/facts brought with them numerous long talks with Uncle Shen and Serenity. They’d shrunk Warren’s head and prevented this from twisting him. Warren had dealt with these issues, there was little venom or self hate. He’d been a kid, it wasn’t his fault… he'd accepted that and blamed the mother hunters.

Hate was bitter but mostly abstract. He didn't dwell on it, didn't let it twist him, Uncle Shen had done his work far too well for that. But in Warren's opinion, ‘See a mother hunter, kill a mother hunter’ worked very well as a policy even if he’d never done it himself. That would change soon.

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Epiphany rode Warren's memory, lived his pain at losing his mother. Though she watched as his grief was healed, her own memories of her last days with her parents was triggered. And no matter how much Traveler and Serenity had assured her she had done the right thing, Pip lived with the guilt of what she had done to them.

They had been on a 'field trip' when they met Traveler, but though Epiphany knew her parents considered letting her go with him, they didn't want to lose her. When Pele discovered she was pregnant again, the question was pushed to the back burner. This pregnancy wasn't as precipitous as the last one, running a normal course.

But though Pip's unborn sibling didn't respond to any of her delicate probing, it was obvious that whoever this baby would be, he or she was a nova. The heat generated by Pele during her pregnancy was intense.

It didn't take long for that heat to be noticed and a team of mother hunters make their way to the moon looking for the group. Epiphany felt them coming. Only ten, she was afraid, remembering what had been done to her mother while she was still in the womb.

Pip had projected her fear and knowledge of the approaching group to her parents and 'Uncle' Spike. She rode along in Tigerhawk's mind as he and Spike moved to intercept. She lived in the minds of those who died and in the anger and hatred of her father's emotions. But she knew what her parents didn't, there would be more.

Epiphany knew her mother would never leave her behind and also would not take her away from the earth. Pele loved the planet and it's people too much and wanted her daughter to have that love as well. Tigerhawk similarly wouldn't leave their daughter and wouldn't take her against her mother's wishes.

Pip understood them, understood their love for the earth and the need for a connection with it. The need to protect it and baseline humanity from those who thought power meant right. Many of whom were the same type of people who had performed torturous experiments upon Pele and pre-natal Epiphany and countless others.

Pip was willing to stay behind, the path was already there in the offer of the Traveler. But if she stayed her parents wouldn't leave. And they had to go, for their safety and that of her unborn sibling. Though her years were few, she had the memories of many different lifetimes to draw upon, and she made a hard decision.

They had to be safe, she was a danger to that safety. Without her, they would leave, look for another place where they could raise a family without worrying about mother hunters and mad scientists.

So Pip started. It was slow at first, subtle. A little change, a little rewiring. Bit by bit Epiphany locked away her parent's memories of their firstborn daughter. It took weeks, but she was persistent, often working until she could go no more then crying herself to sleep.

All too soon Pele and Tigerhawk had forgotten Epiphany. Embedded deep in their minds was a trigger, a word spoken that would awaken their memories of her. She gave Spike that word, telling him not to say it for at least five years. Then she gave them a destination.

A system close enough for them to fly to before Pele came to full term but far enough away that the mother hunters wouldn't follow them. Spike carried the supplies they would need to build a habitation there.

Two days passed, alone in the darkness of their moon apartment Epiphany cried. She held her old toys and curled up in her parent's bed. They were gone and she had done it. She hadn't just read them, she had changed them, stolen from them their memories and free will. What she had done was terrible and could not be forgiven. But she couldn't see any other possible solution.

Finally she had cried all her tears. A hollow emptiness filled her heart where her family had been. Saying good bye to them one last time, she called Traveler. Reaching out her mind to his, she told him it was time to come get her. But despite the 'family' she had been introduced to on the island, she could never accept them into her heart. That place was held inviolate for her real family, out among the stars.

At that thought, the memory ended, because now Epiphany had accepted the others as family. When they forgave her for shunting her flashback horrors though the open network, she had been able to see, finally, that one could never have too much family. That accepting them didn't mean pushing her parents out of her heart.

Tears streamed, unnoticed, down her cheeks.

Click to reveal..
For the record, she isn't using Tactful at the moment - so if anyone stumbled across them . . . I'll leave that up to Krull - but right now Epiphany is so involved in the meld she might not notice much of anything short of a thermonuclear detonation going on around her.
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Warren wiped away Pip's tears and offered an embarrassed comfort. He observed/sent They're nearby, we could go looking whenever you want. Pip clearly saw his misunderstanding about what had happened in the moon, both his horror and his acceptance/forgiveness of what he'd thought had happened.

Pip also saw she’d affected him deeply with her flashback/flooding of the mind link of the scientists’ torture. There again, he’d gotten the details wrong. He'd thought she’d been older. This time getting the details wrong didn’t change much.

He fully accepted/forgave Pip… but the scientists were a different matter. This was the worst incident he’d heard visited on his favorite person (or now the mother of his favorite person). What they’d done was unforgivable and inexcusable, so there’d be no forgiveness and no excuses. He was going to kill them.

This wasn’t an abstract desire, or an ‘I might’ plan. Warren lumped the Teragen Scientists in with the mother hunters. They needed to die. There’d be no warnings or grand standing, it’d be an execution. He waited only because he didn’t yet have sufficient mastery over his powers. The Terat scientists were already dead, they just didn’t know it yet.

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Epiphany fell into Warren's acceptance. In a way it healed her more than anything ever had. The fact that he had so misunderstood her words earlier but still loved an accepted her took Pip aback for a moment. But it also strengthened the depth of healing.

But when Warren became filled with resolve about the scientists, Pip reached out a hand to cover his. 'No. Those who did that died at my father's hands. Those that remain were not there. I hate Teragen for what it did, I still have those memories lash out at me. But we don't know who truly is innocent and who is guilty. We can not become them, allowing ourselves to fall to their level because of the pains some who adopted the same cause did in that cause's name. I can't work with them, but I also can't accept that all of them are of such abject evil. And more than that, I can't accept the stain such killing would put on your soul.'

Epiphany hadn't realized she was as accepting of Teragen as she just sounded, but feeling Warren's anger tempered her own. Seeing that dark hatred in his heart startled her into seeing how much she had allowed herself to fall into a similar darkness. She had never thought of him as someone with that tenancy. Warren had always been there for her, supportive and understanding.

Suddenly Pip couldn't stop the flood of memories of the brother who's mind she shared. Her cheeks colored under her fur as she realized what she was showing him, but she couldn't stop the flow once it started. Scene after scene of him talking, smiling, supporting, smiling, walking, being. He had never pressured her or tried to change her, but been there when she needed someone. Epiphany had never made the mistake many young girls make with their first crush, seeing them as some strange vision of perfection. But she had seen his kindness and his easy acceptance and developed an affection she hadn't even admitted to herself until just earlier that day.

In a moment the memories and thoughts flashed through their bond, an eternal moment that passed between one heart beat and the next. She put up a wall around those memories as quickly as she could, but Epiphany knew it was too late. Not able to meet his eyes, she pulled away from the link, afraid of what she might learn from his reaction.

Pip noticed it was harder to pull out of the connection than she had expected. But once they were again separate, she understood why. The emptiness of being alone in her mind again echoed through her soul. Fresh tears sprung up in downcast eyes. Epiphany couldn't bare to face Warren, knowing he couldn't possibly understand her feelings for him. He saw her as a sister and anything more must be intensely awkward. Her mind ringing with the silence of solitude, Pip trembled as she waited for him to run away from her. Maybe he would yell or slap her, no matter what happened, she would accept it. Bracing herself for the worst, Pip didn't have the courage to face him.

Click to reveal..
10d10 → [8,7,6,8,4,2,5,8,2,8] = (58)


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As she tried to pull their minds back apart, it was like pulling taffy or glue apparent, in a way, though Epiphany didn't pay it attention, it was on both of their sides, rather then just one or the other, a reluctance to end such a close and intimate moment, though her embarrassment at what she revealed allowed her to pull free without seeing his own feelings on the matter.

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