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Aberrant: Children of Quantum Fire - Where do we go from here? [5.13]


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Time Period: One Week And One Day After Jungle Storms

Butch had allowed for things to cool off a bit following the tumult surrounding Maia's...gift to Justin and their subsequent journey to Kinshasa to enjoy the hospitality of King Einherjar. The group was able to relax and enjoy a bit of a break from their increasingly busy and dangerous lives as 2nd Generation Novas in a world incredibly hostile towards them. It was nice to be able to walk the streets of a bustling metropolis with little worry of a team of Motherhunters coming after them since Einherjar ran such a tight ship. All in all, it was a nice vacation for the group, but now it was time to get back to business.

Seeing all that Einherjar had accomplished in the Congo was inspiring. Knowing that it was done by one Nova was humbling. Considering the power he and the wards of the Traveler possessed, Butch knew that they could and, more importantly, should change the world. The question was: What kind of a world did they want to create? When they had started out a short time ago, their plans were somewhat hazy, indefinite. In that short period of time they had accomplished much. They had allied with Sophia Rousseau and the Aberrants. Working with them, they had rescued Eric and Zia from a team of Motherhunters. They had also destroyed a Motherhunter base and rescued three older 2nd generation novas as well as two fertile 1st gens. Warren had explored distant star systems and discovered Jupiter2 and its fascinating moons. Alex used raw materials from that system to create the Primus, a remarkable submarine the likes of which had never been possible before. They had negotiated a modeling contract for Maia, Cora, and Marina with DeVries in exchange for valuable information. They had done so much...

And they had all become so much more than they had once been following Apotheosis. Each of them had risen to levels of power undreamed of by the majority of novas, but they had not yet considered, together, how that would change things and alter their agenda. In fact, Butch wondered what exactly his siblings could do now that they had reached a new level. There were definitely things that had not yet been discussed. For example, just thinking of himself, Butch understood when he eliminated the sterility virus in their new friends, that he could eliminate the virus most likely on the global scale, sterilize the sterility virus. What might the others be capable of?

There needed to be some discussion about how they could affect the world. That was large scale stuff. There also needed to be a frank, open discussion of how they should conduct themselves on any future missions. The...well, the only word that seemed to fit was "murder"...murder of Demon by Darrik was something that clearly affected Pip, but they all needed to hash out a set of protocols for any further meetings with Motherhunters. After all, Mindwave, rather Erin, was an unwitting participant in a series of events she had little knowledge of or taste for, and Butch had managed to turn her to their side. There had to be others out there that didn't need to be killed. Or exiled to Warren's dinoworld or dimension or whatever. Boy, was that something that needed to be discussed...

Individual actions. The need for a greater degree of both personal and collective responsibility for their actions was paramount. Maia turning Justin into a Nova. Darrik impregnating what's-her-name. Warren flitting off to God-only-knows when and messing with time. Pip melting down constantly. These were some of the things that might be avoided with a frank discussion amongst the family.

They needed direction. They needed to know each other's plans. They needed to do a better job of working together towards a common goal.

Christ, they really needed a family meeting.

Butch shuddered. He made a silent vow to at minimum keep the meeting on track and keep anyone from running off. He was taking it on himself to call the meeting; he'd also take it on himself to lead.

Leaving his room, Butch went in search of Uncle Shen. After a few minutes, he found their guardian walking confidently towards him. Butch stopped and waited for Traveler to come closer, then asked "Will it be safe on the island over the next couple of days, Uncle Shen?"

"Yes, it will be safe," Uncle Shen said. He raised an eyebrow, interested. "Will this be for the meeting you've been planning?"

"How did you..." Butch began. "Never mind. Yeah. It's for the meeting. I'm calling it for tonight at 9 back on the island. Give everyone a few hours to gather their thoughts."

"Would you like me to make sure everyone gets there?" Uncle Shen asked.

"That'd be great, Uncle Shen," Butch said. "And thanks."

With that settled, Butch took a deep breath. Then, he stopped and laughed. Why was he taking a deep breath? A message sent over the network didn't require breath at all...

Some of the workers at the palace looked at him strangely as he cracked up in the middle of a hallway, oblivious to anyone around him. After a moment, he regained his composure and returned to his room.

His mind reached out to his siblings over the network. He felt for them all: Pip, Warren, Cora, Alex, Maia, Marina, Darrik. Knowing that they would hear/read/understand him, Butch sent the following message:

Ok, everyone. We've had a nice week decompressing here, but it's time to get serious. I'm calling a family meeting back on the island tonight at 9 PM. It's been arranged with Uncle Shen, and he'll be providing the transportation.

We've all changed since our last big meeting, and it's high time we got some things straight. Apotheosis has happened to all of us now, and we're capable of altering the world in new ways. Should we? Shouldn't we? We've all been in our own little worlds too much recently, and we need to come together and figure out how we can best work - as a family, a unit - towards our goals. Hell, we need to know what those goals are first and foremost. No more dancing around it.

And we need to know what exactly we're all capable of and what that means. For example, I know that since I hit the Big A, well, I could reach out if I wanted to and shut down Proteus' sterility virus. Sterilize the sterility virus on a global scale maybe. But that's huge. And that's the type of shit we need to hash out.

So, you've got a couple of hours to think about this stuff. When it comes time for the meeting, I want everyone to be prepared with at least two things. First, what is our ultimate goal as a group. And second, what can you do now, post-A, that could change the world in a big way. That's the minimum. I'm sure you've all got big ideas, and I think we all want to hear them.

Be ready for Uncle Shen's pick-up. I'm stepping off the network until then. I think we each need some time alone with our own thoughts. See y'all later. Butch out.

With that, Butch removed himself from the network. With hands interlocked behind his head, Butch lay down on his bed, closed his eyes, and waited for the time of the meeting to arrive.

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Maia's perfectly featured face flashed a dour scowl. She and Justin were sitting at one of Kinshasa's finer restaurants, enjoying the beginnings if their first real date since the Event.

"Goddammit Butch." The network went down, and her now red-colored eyes narrowed. "For all he wants us to think, he's certainly inconsiderate himself."

Maia was a proponent of the little things mattering too. Sure Pip could reestablish the network with no great effort but the necessity of it annoyed her.

Justin for his part looked at her. "Little Brother called a meeting?"


"So I guess we're done for tonight?" A look of disappointment passed over his face.

"Yes." The look on her face also of disappointment would have inspired most to utter despair.

"I'm gonna have to kick his ass for this." From his smile, Maia knew he was only half serious, though his voice sounded totally sincere.

"I might help depending on how it goes." She too was half serious. Though Maia loved her siblings, that didn't mean she didn't get annoyed by them from time to time.

This was supposed to be a special night, Very soon They'd be leaving for training with Shen, Training they'd both need now. God only knew when they'd get to be together like this again. And now Butch had decided to ruin it with a Family meeting. Accusations would be made, demands, recriminations, and maybe plans. For someone who was supposedly a master tactician and planner, he seemed to forget the tenet that no plan survived contact with the enemy.

Still Justin's reaction pleased Maia. He wasn't happy it was happening, but he understood that the family did need to talk, and clear the air as it were. He stood and waited for Maia to leave. They thanked the Host, and reassured him that their exit was due to an emergency, that they were quite sorry to do so. The Host nodded, disappointed to see the young nova couple leave, but understanding in the end.

They both returned to the Palace to pack what things they'd bring back home, and then on with them to train. Maia knew she'd be sad to leave this place, it was so peaceful here, and made a promise that she would return.

A quick kiss and embrace for Justin later, and she was alone, flying over the city, the flapping of her wings reflexive, as they were really just quantum-made flesh and feathers, and would vanish when she landed.

Alone in the Sky, Maia thought about all she'd been able to do since Apothesis, and just how the effects of her power could alter the world.

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Coraline received Butch's message aboard the Primus, having returned there and packed her souveneirs from the wonderful excursion to the Congo that morning. A wonderful place to visit and finally get her head on straight some more, but they had work to do and Aunt Serenity deserved some help dealing with their rescuees. She was going through one of of her slow-motion katas in the mini sub launch bay, flowing smoothly from one position to another in a state of meditative now and feeling and focusing on every single muscle as they lengthed and shortened with her movements, trying to keep an open awareness for the passive flow of her chi beneath the thrum of her node. Not quite suceeding yet, but Uncle Shen had told her how hard it would be, how long she'd have to look inside herself in a way that was unique to every nova who learned this. No good in being impatient.

The young metamorph wasn't alone, having been spotted by the youngest of their winged rescuees and not having the heart to deny the girl her request to join in. One thing followed another and now she had all four younger girls following her movements. It disrupted her concentration a little to have them there, but the happiness she saw in them made up for it, an additional level of serenity that held even with the end of the message and the fall of the link. Hmmm, a family meeting, huh? That was going to be productive.

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Frustrated at being interrupted just as she was putting the finishing touches on the language she had been working on all week, Pip ground her teeth as Butch sent along the network. She was ready to start testing out the quantum language, and the meeting would be the perfect place to talk to the others about working on it with her. That, and the other project she had been trying to figure out how to make work since the rescue mission.

But when Butch severed the network, the building frustration Epiphany had been ignoring for the last week boiled to the surface and she threw the pin she had been writing with at the wall. As ink splattered and dripped down the wall, she flopped, face first, onto her bed. The network was very useful, but sometimes Pip felt people took it for granted. Reconnecting everyone wasn't particularly difficult, but it meant running around and gathering everyone into the link and was rather tedious. Not to mention that having it down meant a weakness in the family's defenses.

That was defiantly a topic for tonight's meeting, not severing the network for everyone because you've decided you don't need it or you want to go jaunting into the past or outer space or what have you. Pip was about ready to declare that she wasn't going to allow people into the network who treated it with such casual disrespect. But she took a deep breath, found her center again, and relaxed. Then she worked on cleaning up bits of pen and splattered ink for a while to finish calming her nerves. As she cleaned, she realized Butch hadn't told them which 9pm. After all, they were rather scattered about the globe and different ones of them were in different time zones. She'd have asked, but that wasn't really an option. Just how much time did they have before this meeting?

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Warren was in the Congo staring into the Now when he received the message. He struggled to disconnect from his senses in time to sent a reply but the network went down before he got his act together.

Family meeting? A good idea. Overdue. He had some disturbing information to bring up and had been planning on calling one himself.

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Darrik was on Primus too, lying satiated after a joyous romp with Agatha and Gwen in bed when he heard Butch's message and the network go down. Did Butch think that they could hear his thoughts through the link? Silly, though Darrik wondered with a worried thought if this meeting was similarly useless. They had the power alright, but could they make agreements? Him with his new family to protect and Maia with her own family issues. Cora filled with general opposition to the motherhunters and Utopia still, Pip wishing to absolve her enemies of guilt even as they tried to eliminate her, Warren playing games with time and space for less than worthwhile reasons... Alex startlingly growing more and more inhuman, he sensed, even if untainted... and the new arrivals-

Together the family could shake the world, no doubt- but could they cooperate sufficiently to agree on and execute any plan?

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After a few minutes of quiet contemplation, Butch made a decision concerning an additional member for their meeting. Frankly, when Shaman showed up out of nowhere several days ago, Butch was wary, concerned that he was a spy of some kind ready to bring down the wrath of the Motherhunters down on his friends and family. However, that did not seem to be the case. Cora seemed to place a certain degree of trust in him, and the others thought he was ok... occasionally awkward, but ok. Butch had only talked to him briefly, and he seemed like a standup kind of guy. They had not included him on the network yet though, but it was Cora who brought up the idea of inviting him to the next family meeting. Prior to returning to Primus, during one of their nightly chat sessions, she said that Butch should give some serious thought to including Shaman in future plans.

Butch made his way to Shaman's room, finding the door ajar. After knocking twice, Butch gently pushed the door open and saw Shaman, who was staring intently at a cherry blossom. Then Butch noticed that he also seemed to be muttering something to the blossom. He was talking to a flower? Butch was pretty sure he could do something similar, but he never really felt the need to. It might eventually be interesting to talk with Shaman about that particular avenue of his own quantum abilities...

"Alright, Shaman," Butch said. It took a moment, but eventually the young nova's stormy blue eyes met Butch's multi-faceted green ones. "Think of this as a call-to-arms. Our family's getting together tonight to talk about our future. Where we're going as a group. We're talking about our goals and how we can change the world. Now, so far those of us who've met you think you're a standup kind of guy. Cora made an especially strong case for including you in this discussion, but I'm leaving it up to you. I'll warn you in advance that things might get a bit heated, might get ugly. We might meander a bit here and there, hither and yon away from the goals of the meeting, but I think the payoff is gonna be well worth it. When we're done, the world ain't gonna be the same. This is your chance to be a part of it. Maybe even influence what we do. Later on, Uncle Shen'll pop in and ask if you'll be joining us for the meeting. You say, "yes"? Well, then I'll see you later, hoss. Think it through."

With that, Butch left the young nova to contemplate, and returned to his own room to relax before the impending verbal melee.


At the appointed time, Uncle Shen warped the attendees to the island where they found Butch seated at a large round mahogany table with enough comfortable chairs around it for all in attendance. He was dressed as per usual: black t-shirt, torn blue jeans, black motorcycle boots, weather-beaten biker jacket. They all noticed, however, that Butch was not wearing his sunglasses, something that he seemed more comfortable with of late. After they all took their seats, Butch leaned forward in his seat, elbows on the table, and met each of their gazes with his own multi-faceted, emerald eyes.

"Good evening, y'all," he began. "Thanks for being here. I think this meeting is a bit overdue, and I'm sure some of you feel the same way. Things have changed in a big way since the last time we got together to talk about where we're going as a group. As of now, we represent a significant percentage of the most powerful novas on the planet thanks to the changes we've undergone. If we work together, considering what we are capable of, we can change this world in a big way. The first question then is what do we want that world to look like. I think it's important that we understand each other's goals and see if they intersect or if we're all off in a thousand different directions that can never be brought together..

"I asked y'all to think about what your goals are. As individuals. What do you want the world to look like when we're done. That means down the line, not tomorrow. I guess it's only fair that I begin since I called for this powwow. One thing I want is the utter annihilation of the operating capacity of Project Proteus. They've been around for too long and they've got a shit-ton of resources to keep on fucking with us and ours, so they've got to go. No more mind-rape facilities in the mountains. No more sterilization program. In fact, I want an end to Motherhunting in its current form--blanket slaughter of any nova with the capability to reproduce as well as their offspring. Doesn't matter who's doing it. Working gonads, in whatever form, shouldn't automatically equal a death sentence.

"After that, well, I saw a lot during our time in the Congo. I think it's an inspiring place, for baselines and novas, and is something to shoot for. And I don't see why we can't set up a place of our own like that eventually. Is that place here on Earth? I don't know. I hope so. If it's not here, maybe it's somewhere out there. Maybe some day we start up our own colony on the Moon, or Mars, or one of the moons of Jupiter, or on some other ball of rock out there. Wherever it may end up, I still think that we, as a group, can create a place like the Congo. No. Check that. We can make a place better than the Congo, if we work together."

He paused a moment, looking down at the table away from the others. Then, he looked up. His voice softened for a moment as he went on, calmly serious.

"Someday, way down the line, I want to start a family of my own. I want that option. I want that to be a safe option. So, I want that, and all those other things, and I want you all to be safe. That's probably my most important goal overall. I want to keep you guys safe.

"So, those are my goals. I also asked you to think about how things have changed, and specific ways you might be able change the world. For many of us, our abilities underwent a serious upgrade. World-affecting upgrades. I think we all need to know exactly what we're all capable of doing now and how we might be able to use those abilities to help us reach our goals. I also think we need to know exactly what we're all capable of so that we can act as a voice of reason for each other before we go off half-cocked and change things in a way that might hurt us.

"I'll tell y'all that some of my powers could change things big time. If I wanted to, right now, I could probably reach out with my bioenergy and neutralize the sterility virus in its current form. On a global scale. If I wanted to, right now, I could probably turn off an individual nova's node for good. It might take some time and effort, but I think if I really tried, I could de-erupt a nova. My powers also extend into the biosphere now. When I changed up there in the mountains, I...I don't know how to describe it...I touched this plant growing in the mountains without physically touching it, and I understood its entire genetic code. Not only that, but I could affect its whole species. If I wanted to, I could force it to...adapt. I could probably take it and change it so that it could survive in Antarctica or a nuclear reactor or even some other planet. Any of those abilities might affect things if we put them to use, but I wanted y'all to know about them before I might use them."

Secretly, he was hoping that this meeting would be productive. You could never tell with his family, and it had barely started. It was time to wrap up his own little introduction though. He continued.

"I'm almost done speechifying, don't worry. I want to hear from y'all about this. We're gonna go around the table and listen to each others' goals and ways we might be able to change the world. So, let's keep it civil, and let's hear what you have to say. Who's up?"

He sat back in the chair and waited to hear what the others had to say.

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"A lot of my new abilities stem from the changes to my personal structure," Alex says after a moment of uncomfortable silence. "My abilities to create, control and destroy matter are largely unchanged, if significantly more powerful. I can now also change the material properties of matter to suit my needs. The copper wires in Primus, for example, are room-temperature superconductors. They're still copper...but I've modified their conductivity."

"Goals. Globally, I plan to ensure the survival of humanity in all its forms. To that end, I have several medium to long term projects in their early stages. My more immediate goal is to protect us. For this, most recently, I've been completing a project to release biommetic recon drones into the environment of cities and political centers for the purpose of collecting intelligence. I've also installed a twelve satellite communication and GPS system into orbit, with Warren's assistance. The satellites have advanced electro-optic telescopes for espionage, as well as advanced quantum resonance sensors. I anticipate that, with a few upgrades I've been working on, we'll soon have the capacity to search and track known quantum signatures almost anywhere on the surface of the planet. In combination with recon drones for groundside surveillance, the potential for findng Proteus associates is...very high."

She coughed and added as an afterthought. "I've also recently completed the course requirements for a Doctor of Medicine...and I'm looking into the possibility of eliminating taint."

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"Forgive me, I know I am not 'yet' a part of this group, but I like the members of it that I have met. I think I know what you who have spoken are reaching for, but I would like to try and define the question, or questions and goals."

"I know I can be long-winded, but please bear with me."

"I know this bear (groans?) and he discovered a hive of bees. The bear, being a bear, broke into the hive and ate some of the honey and left. Later the bear came back. This repeated itself throughout the season until the bees knew how to recognize the bear and had a scent warning for him. They 'named' the bear. The bear didn't care what the bees had named it, or even if it had been named. He attacked any, got his honey, and left."

"We are the bear, baseline humanity is the bee."

"We can not let the bee define us, because we are bears, independent of their world. We impact it, live beside it, profit from it, but that doesn't make us bees. I'm not saying we can't get along. If necessary we can do without a great many things they have. But we are still bears."

"I don't see this as a conflict between Proteus and us. It isn't. It is about us and our fellow novas. We want to save as many novas as possible = goal. Does it matter how this is accomplished? If Proteus must be destroyed, then destroy it, but that is not, or should not, be our goal. Don't let them define the nature of the contest. You are acting like killing all Proteus agents will solve the underlying issue of humanity being uncertain of were they stand with us, or more importantly, our stance toward them. We need to understand what we stand for and, if necessary, how to project that agenda."

"If we are a threat to humanity, then they will continue acting the same way they are acting now. The names will change, but the bees will not. We know how they will react. Proteus is a reaction to us. It is the bees getting organized. As long as the situation remains the same - an uncertainty of our intentions - they will react in the same way. We do, and have always, defined the conflict. The problem is that we are ten-thousand screaming voices with few common ideas of who we are or what we should do."

"I'm not advocating Project Utopia. I'm not advocating the Teragen. I am saying that we, our actions, or in-actions, are the problem."

"Alex, you have this spy net, but what is it looking for ... and by the way, have you figured out how Proteus finds nova children, and can we hijack that system?"

"Butch, would you rather save children, or kill Proteus, and the organization that comes after that, ect.? I think your better nature, your desire for a family, speaks volumes for you ... in my eyes anyway. Life will find a way, we just have to be there to shepherd it."

"Okay, sorry for the speech."

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"Will have it," Alex corrected. "its purpose is to allow me to compete with entities like Nyx, who have extensive intelligence resources...which is also the answer to your second question to me."

"Don't misunderstand me. My goal is the preservation of baseline and nova. All humanity in all its forms. All signs point to segregation being necessary to achieve that goal. Multiple relocation scenarios are under consideration. All will require time to implement though, and dealing with immediate threats like Proteus and the Directive is necessary to get that time."

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"Exactly, Alex." Darrik concurred, smoothly, though he himself was about to release a bombshell upon the group. "But you're missing the other side of the conflict that needs to be contained. I have many powers like everyone else- not as extreme. But," he sighed, "my greatest advantage, is being able to understand people, baselines like the most plain simpletons, novas seen through like glass and move them about with the same ease. That and it being hard enough to go anywhere without getting admirers on both sides of the quantum line."

"A few days ago, Count Orzaiz invited me to a private party at his Kinshasa villa. Many were not Terats present, I assure you. Then after some enjoyable time with Gwen and Agatha, we had a private discussion with him and other Terat elders. I've come to a decision. I agree with only a fraction of what the Teragen espouses. Nonetheless, to steer them away from the path of open conflict, to get a better understanding of them and..." He cast a significant glance at Pip, "to identify those who tortured Epiphany so that they may be dealt with, I am going to join the Teragen."

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What? Okay. "That's certainly a dramatic choice, brother, but before Pip reacts, let me say my thoughts."

Coraline looked sidelong at Shaman, the younger Nova sitting to her right, "Good speech, but your metaphore is flawed because those 'bees' started stinging the 'bear' before it got anywhere close to taking their honey thanks to the warnings of one special bee who could see the future. They were prepared to hit us first, before we did anything wrong. Everything else that followed... Well, they started this fight, we just have to finish it on terms all sides can live with."

Her chorus turned serious, simple as she counted off her goals on one finger, "I would like to see us shut down Project Proteus and clean up what Motherhunting means. Get Max Mercer's Aeon Society to stop attacking us. Find or make a place or three where Novas can be Nova without baselines trying to kill us or us them. Once we have that, we give back Nova ferility, and try to be a safety valve as everything Aeon and Utopia tried to enforce changes around them."

She continued, "As to what I can do towards that end, I don't really think I can shake world with a gesture yet. I can restore the fertility of a few novas for a little while, so maybe we can use that to test the waters or draw attention away from one of you. Uncle said I'm 'invisible to the future' so if we need anything done, I should be involved to blur the world's oracles. And... I think I might be able to go faster than light, a whisper from my node telling me I can take it much, much faster whenever I'm doing my morning flight around the world. I need to test it though."

She turned her blue-on-black gaze back on her youngest brother, expression wry, "And in the interest of getting our shocks out of the way at once, I've decided to no longer be a part of the link. At least for a little while. To see if the baseline world is good enough for me get along without it."

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Darrik's revelation hit pretty hard. Butch closed his eyes for a moment, and almost forgot that he wanted to respond to Shaman's comments. There were things he had said that Butch felt the need to address. Plus, he hoped it would give Pip a chance to have a moment to consider Darrik's comments before she went and flipped out.

"Big news all around," Butch said. He turned his chair slightly to look at Shaman. "I just want to say something to clarify things for Shaman. Like Alex said, 'don't misunderstand me.' There ain't a choice between saving children or stopping Proteus. Doing the latter accomplishes the former. And I never said killing all Proteus agents. I said annihilating the operating capacity of Proteus. By doing that, we save children. Saving children is something we're already doing, but we can do it better. We've already rescued five second generation novas from Motherhunters, plus two fertile first generation novas. May not seem like much, but it's something we're all very proud of."

He turned back to address the rest of the group.

"Alright, let's keep on rolling. Pip? Warren? Maia? Marina? Let's hear what y'all think."

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Shaman looks to Coraline, and cocks his head to the side ever so slightly.

"That worried me too, and I'm not sure as to the why? Why declare war on us 'Before we even did anything'? It only makes sense if humanity is psychotic, or they know something we don't know. I've been told of the power structure. Aeon is on top. Utopia is one leg and Proteus is the other. So, why did the Aeon Society want to get rid of us from day one? All of you have powers beyond my scope, so is there a way to learn the 'why?' The Bees are pissed about us for some reason. We can still deal with them, but I would like to know why they acting out of character, because that would indicate a 'second' bear. Someone who has come before us, or will come before us but be able to reach into the past, and stir up the Bee Hive.

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Alex snorts. "There doesn't have to be a magic time traveler to explain that. Human beings, baseline and nova, regard the unknown as a threat. The question was never 'what did we do to them.' It was always 'what MIGHT we do to them.' A breedng population of superhumans would eventually overtake humanity as masters of the Earth. Human beings would be second class citizens in a society that no longer serves their needs...but rather needs their service."

She shrugs. "Is that what WOULD happen? Probably. But regardless, it's what the leaders of humanity fear. Racial Obsolescence."

"Now, add to all that a magic time traveler."

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"Now, add to all that a magic time traveler."
Warren put his hand up at that and said, "Here... and before I react to some of the things which have been said... we have a problem. More on that in a moment."

Warren said, "OK, my old powers were warp, which let me go pretty much anywhere. My new powers..." Warren eyed Shaman and mentally shrugged, if his brother felt he needed to know then he probably did, "...are basically the same thing but stronger and I've added Time Travel to the mix. Back in time, forward in time, sideways, that sort of thing. So far I haven't changed history. I mean, say I got back a day and buy the winning lottery ticket. If we'd checked who won even before I left, we'd find out that I did."

"When I find where and when a mother hunter team is, I go back in time and I take them out. I suspect that's why the first team hunting Shaman mysteriously vanished. The second team is part of the historic record, but right after he gets away for the final time I'm going to show up and deal with them too. Mother hunters are used to striking with surprise and disappearing back into the shadows. From now on when they leave they're not coming back. I've got a garden of eden planet I exile them too."

Warren shrugged and said, "It's safe and easy. Nine hypertimed clones with all my powers active show up and attack. If the wrong side wins, then I retreat in time, rest a day, maybe talk to Alex, and then one second later nine more show up, and so on and so on."

It was time for the bad news, Warren took a deep breath and said, "And I think we're going to lose the Earth. I haven't tested it yet, but I think I can crack the planet pretty trivially. Warp gate between the Earth and the center of the Sun. Boom. I think everyone in this room can probably come up with a way to do the same thing. I trust us to not blow up the Earth, but with more and more 2nd gens, sooner or later we'll get a crazy, or we'll get two novas on opposite sides of some divisive issue."

"Which brings us back to opening up other planets for colonization. I think we HAVE to, and I want to go public with that asap. Giving people room to expand will give us breathing room, and if we lose a planet it won't be extinction."

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"Alright, hold on," Alex said with a sigh. "Destroying Earth is harder than you think. One of your warp gates is what, six by six? Even if you opened a gate straight into the center of the sun, the energy that can come through per second isn't nearly enough to destroy the planet. You'd heat up the core, maybe pop a few new volcanos, and yeah, it wouldn't be GOOD...but it's not an extinction level event."

She paused, then added.

"Not that you couldn't do it at all, ever. You'd just need more than one gate. And it would take time. Time, ideally, that could be used by everyone else to stop you."

"That said, I agree that relocation to an offworld site is preferable to wholesale conquest of a terrestrial area."

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"Let's not be so casual and open about abilities to destroy the planet." Darrik warned, "Because that's not really a good thing, Warren. For that matter, you seem to be utterly lacking sense when it comes to time travel. With such rampant and unrestricted use... you've never considered a paradox, or something else going wrong? Sometime the old ways ARE better. Stop being so reckless about it."

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"Okay, beating a deer on life support here, but ... Alex, humanity isn't out to kill us. This isn't a visceral instinct. A very select group is trying to kill us of the 2nd gen. I imagine you are quite a bit smarter than me, so you've probably examined that angle, but ... Look at Bombshell. Look at Einherjar. The 'humanity is out to kill us because we are different' doesn't make sense to me."

"As for killing the planet ... what about all those novas yet to be born? What about our future? The same thing goes for leaving. What happens to those less gifted than ... us? Do we condemn them to die along with the billions of innocents? While I think it is best if we act as a group, I would heavily oppose such an action. As I see it, the only people that truly understand us, are others like us. This doesn't even take into consideration what the actions of all the novas not with us, or who erupt because of our actions, will be. We just murdered their world."

Shaman seems 'concerned' about this talk of global extinction.

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"Destroying the world isn't an option here. Warren was just giving an example of something he could do with his power." The look in her eyes told the tale, that he'd even voice the idea worried her.

She looked to Butch. "I can make new novas. Not in the biological sense, though I'd be willing to bet that holds true. You all know what I did with Justin, literally making him into a Titan class nova. It took time, and is very inefficient. However, if I can make a nova, I know I can unerupt one as well."

There was so much more she thought she could do, but wasn't sure about, so she left it unsaid.

"I wouldn't be adverse to helping with colonization efforts, construction and what not, but I'd also point out Marina, Cora, and I still have a number of months in our contracts, so we have to be around for that."

She shook her head. "Darrik, if we're going to talk about ending the motherhunters, remember the Teragen did it too. You talk about dealing with those who tortured Epiphany." Her red eyes seemed to blaze. "Do you mean in the same sense you dealt with Demon? Do you think that's really what she wants? What of all the other members involved in their motherhunting operations, what will you do with them?"

She turned to Warren. "While I'm glad you don't kill them, all you've really done is made one other locale we need to watch. They're still novas, they have the potential to reach where we are. Then they come back, and we know nothing of it. What then Warren, what if they come back strong enough to take us on?"

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Warren replied, "Paradox doesn't appear to be something you can make accidently. Short of delibrate effort, history is stable. Destroying the world is a terrifying, horrifying idea, and I hope Alex is right and I can't. That's not a button I dare touch. But. I think sooner or later someone will. We need to think about it before it becomes a problem."

Warren continued softly, picking his words with care, "As for exiled novas getting stronger... that's... not going to happen. If they're going to put on a nazi uniform and work towards murdering our species, then I'm going to treat them appropriately. Uncle Shen's warning means exile is only for baselines."

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Maia, and likely everyone else knew what that meant. "I see." Death came so casually to so many of them. She was far from blameless, there.

She looked to Epiphany, a quiet look of support, hoping she was strong enough to endure that bombshell of a revelation.

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Coraline winced despite all her training and composure, an 'you did NOT just say that' expression on her features. Sometimes her older brother made her wonder which of them had the enhanced intelligence between them. He really did.

"We'll see what Alex found out about Aeon and Max Mercer later, Shaman," she offered to the younger nova next to her, waiting for the potential explosion from her stressed sibling.

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Butch massaged the bridge of his nose with his thumb and index finger. There were a whole mess of issues they were gonna have to deal with. The meeting had barely begun, and they were already in danger of going off on some...hazardous tangents. Goddamn time travel...

"Alright, alright," Butch said, hands raised, palms outward, voice developing a cold edge of frustration to it. When he had their attention, he continued, "There are some things y'all have mentioned that we're tabling until later."

He pointed across the table at Warren first, saying, "You." Then he pointed at Darrik, "And you. Will cease and desist, for now, on the time travel issue and Warren's jaunts to where-slash-whenever it is he flakes off to. I want to hear what everyone has to say about it, but later."

Thinking for a moment, he turned and regarded Alex, "And Alex, I'll bet you're itching to wow us with something mega-brilliant to add regarding the issue, but we're gonna save it for later. Comprende?"

"Maia," he said, turning slowly in his chair to meet his sister's eyes. "I know your concerns regarding what happened with Demon. We WILL be discussing future conduct with any enemies we face in the field. We need an operational doctrine that doesn't make us into monsters. Warren, that means we come to a consensus on...what was it you said? Treating them appropriately? Yeah. That was it. Again, that's something we're getting to later.

"Let's not get too far off track. First thing we're dealing with are GOALS. Once we figure out the big stuff, then we get to the finer points. So, we've got some goals on the table. We need to organize them. Figure out which goals are at the top and which goals are subordinate to them. And before we get too far along with that, I want to hear from anyone who hasn't expressed their goals. So, stay on goals. And let's hear 'em if you haven't shared 'em yet. Savvy?"

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'Man, oh man, were did I screw this up. Remember damn it. Remember.'

Alex snorts. "There doesn't have to be a magic time traveler to explain that. Human beings, baseline and nova, regard the unknown as a threat.

'Okay, but what? The mass of humanity DID NOT see us as a threat aka every popular nova star out there. A very small group did, and quickly. Were we just unlucky? Does she see factors I can't comprehend yet?'

The question was never 'what did we do to them.' It was always 'what MIGHT we do to them.' A breedng population of superhumans would eventually overtake humanity as masters of the Earth. Human beings would be second class citizens in a society that no longer serves their needs...but rather needs their service."

'Think damn you, think! ... He's dead Jim! ... come on now.'

'Creatures have a protocol when they meet something they don't know, or understand. How rare is it in the animal kingdom for something to lash out blindly? Very. As often as not, you end up pulling back a stump. Okay, but what does that mean, though? Does our existance render humanity obsolete, or are we like Wolverines and Bears. Different, but sharing the same range? How do we figure that out? I mean ... do I really have any ties to humanity anymore? I've never really gotten to know any humans. The closest I've come that was my 1st gen parents, and they didn't understand me most of the time anyway.'

'Thinking about chicks is easier.'

'Hey, if I'm right ... won't that lead to separation? I wonder how much anyone here in this room "needs" a baseline society to function? Controlling them ... seems ... pointless. Am I alone in feeling that way? I can hardly say I understand them on a personal level, now can I?'

'The question is ... what do you think she has on under that ...'


'I'm just sayyan.'

She shrugs. "Is that what WOULD happen? Probably. But regardless, it's what the leaders of humanity fear. Racial Obsolescence."

"Now, add to all that a magic time traveler."

'Does everyone fear worst case? Did someone both know what we were capable of in the first year or two, but not grasp what exterminating our young would do? That seems ... idiotic'.

'How about WORSE PLAN EVER?'

'So, what is really going on? Will too many of us act too much like them? Kill one of us, we'll kill twenty of you .... or exile them, or whatever they do to defeated Mother Hunters. I'm really not feeling that revenge is a vice we can afford. How do I express that?'

'Think ... think. What parallels can I draw from ... baby seals being clubbed ... netting dolphins .... whale near extinctions ... can humanity truly turn their back on us when they discover what a few have been doing to our young? It's not in their ... nature. History is full of atrocity, true, but dogs come from the care and raising of stranded wolf pups. Horses ... cats ... no, man has a distinct dislike of killing young for the sake of seeing them dead. If those leaders can convince mankind that we are a threat, then yes, but if those leaders can't convince them of the danger they say we represent, then ... they have FUBARed really good.'

"Alex, you are right. I apologize."

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"It's all right. I sometimes throw around blanket terms too much," Alex admits. "I get impatient. I never meant to say that all human beings were having that reaction to us. Rather, the baselines who embrace these policies can be understood in terms of those reactions."

"I do think though that the more of us there are, and the more powerful we get, the more people will start feeling that way."

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Darrik stayed quiet for a moment, and then decided to make something clear. "Before you say anything about the Teragen, get something clear. This is not an organization like Utopia and Proteus. This is a large community that cannot perfectly police everyone. I'm more than certain a few bad apples that claim brotherhood with the Teragen would torture Pip, but the majority and the leadership would not, cannot tolerate motherhunting or abuse of their fellow members. You and Pip want to have us not lump humanity with the motherhunters? Don't judge the Terats by a few members either."

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Marina now wearing a blue and white dress and seems to have turned her hair hot pink for the day and has it in the same style as Maia .

The young water elemental sighs

"Goals? Hmmm. I think one of the first things we should do is expose them. If the world learns what's going on, they'll make a whole lot of enemies. Let's see how the bastards like it when the planet knows they are a bunch of baby killers. We need to get a hold of hard evidence. Irrefutable proof of what's going on and go public with it."

She said smirking.

"Least that's one goal I think we should work on."

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Warren nodded to Marina and said, "I like it... but... the world already knows."

Warren gestured a little bitterly at the world outside the island and said, "The great unwashed hoards of humanity aren't doing this to us, but they know. They knew about the Holocaust. They knew about Rwanda, Somalia, Ethiopia, and so on. Some look the other way and pretend it's not happening, some approve, most have their own problems."

"Mother hunting will go on until we stop it. Us. Not Pax, the President, the Pope, or various Publishers... our genocide is not their problem. We're going to need to do the heavy lifting. After we're done people will be horrified, but only afterwards."

Warren nodded to Butch and said, "Goals. One: Stop Mother hunting. Two: Prevent the destruction of the world and/or the extermination of any branch of humanity. Three: Colonization, although I guess that counts as a method as much as a goal."

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Coraline sighed inside, wrestling with the guilt and regret of what she'd chosen to do and that it had to come out here and now.

"Might want to step back on the extremity of how you deal with Motherhunters, brother. Not all of them are evil or crazy enough to need to be put down, misled by their leaders or moved to their calling by a legitimate threat. Some of you may know this already, but it was a nasty surprise to me to see with my own eyes when Uncle showed me. When novas like our parents have kids, they get us. Aparently when Terats have kids, they get something else," she intoned softly before looking down, expression grim and subdued, "And... aparently when the highly-tainted have kids, they pass that taint along, produce someone mad and sick and in pain from the moment they're born. Uncle showed me one named Sarris when my T'ai Chi Ch'uan training was nearly done. Told me that she would kill an entire village full of baselines just to produce more of herself and die if I took her away somewhere else, no love no family in the way we all knew it. Know it. That that was what the non-Proteus Motherhunters were mostly concerned with, however they got fooled into feeding our locations to Thetis."

"Uncle gave me the choice what to do: stand by and let the village die, step in and kill Sarris, or something else. I killed her. To save the baselines and end her hurt. Because having a node doesn't give you the right to murder other people who haven't tried to murder you or those you need to protect first."

She dropped her gaze to the floor, looking smaller and more vulnerable than usual and shamed beyond measure, "So I'm one of them now. I couldn't think of anything else to do. I'm sorry."

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"Don't be silly, Cora," Alexandra said, putting a hand on her sister's shoulder. "You're not 'one of them.' No more than I would be 'one of them' if I stopped a serial killer. You put the lives of many innocents above the life of one predator. That's what any moral person would do. And I get that the nova in this case was in some ways an innocent too...but that doesn't change the essential facts. Who lives. Who dies. What is preserved versus what must be disposed of. You made the right decision."

She scowled. "Taint is a problem. Especially if it gets passed on like that. Maybe I need to kick that project up in the timeline a bit..."

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Butch grimaced for a moment, considering what Cora had done and especially how she was taking it. Part of him was upset that Uncle Shen had forced his surprisingly sensitive sister to make such a decision. However, more of him appreciated the way Traveler was pushing Cora not only physically, but mentally, morally as well.

"Alex is right, Cora," Butch chimed in. "You ain't any kind of monster for that. You made a tough choice. And it sounds like you made the right choice. Perspective does cost."

He looked at Alex, saying, "Dealing with taint seems like a good goal, too. We seem mostly immune to it, but the majority of novas out there are vulnerable to negative quantum field warping. I think a lot of other issues either go away or become easier to manage if we can positively deal with taint. So, let's add it to the list. Any other ideas, goals to consider?"

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The young metamorph squeezed Alex's hand in thanks and nodded at their words, still visibly upset in a way that had her eufiber flowing through an ugly series of bruise-like color waves and not meeting the families gaze. "Not a goal, but a how," she mentioned as a way to change the subject, "Uncle's friend Bombshell offered to arrange a meeting with the people at Project Utopia who are supposedly fighting Project Proteus. I don't trust them to not exploit or attack us if we agree to go, but that's not just my choice to make. It's ours."

That got a ghost of a smile out of her, a derailment of her current unpleasant train of thought.

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'We are all one river, from the raindrop falling to the ground, until the union with the ocean.'

'This is going to take some getting used to.'

"I'll say it again, because I believe this is the case: We should concentrate on saving the Children, not killing the Mother Hunters. If we have to kill them, I'm totally fine with that. We should look toward our own survival as a race."

"Worse, because of what Cora said, we also need to consider that you, at least, have been groomed for the purpose of locating and deciding the fate of those who have succumbed to taint."

'We are the river and the course that decides how the stones will be moved.'


"We need unity. We need to accept that we will not always succeed in our personal goals. If we fracture, we are handing the course of events to other hands. That leads to a threat to our very survival. Who would let us survive if they had a unified theory of what to do with novadoms destiny. We are not only very capable, we are very much a threat - to everyone. They know it, and we should too."

'The river moves on regardless and is destined to steer a course. If it is to be our course, we must will the river to move.'

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Warren blinked at Cora's description of events and took a few moments to evaluate them.

Finally he said, "Cora, well done. You're saying Hatchers are real. That's interesting, maybe also useful. It re-frames a lot of things."

"Right now, the mother hunters don't bother telling the difference between us and hatchers. Ein's advice was to give your enemy a way out. I think we need to talk to the Directive. Let them know every time they go after a True, they're going to lose their entire team. But if they want help with the Hatchers, we can work something out. Tainted against the untainted. Carrot and stick."

Edit: Added the word "between"

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It was a tough choice. Maia reached around Shaman, and squeezed Cora's shoulder. "I'd have done the same thing, Cora."

Killing other novas disturbed Maia, this was well known, but at the same time, saving so many from such a gruesome fate made the choice more acceptable than not.

"As far as meeting with Utopia, I'm up for it. It's likely very reckless, but at the same time, these are the people who are inside the beast. I'm willing to trust them. If they are foolish enough to actually attack, then they burn that bridge for good, and we treat them as enemies as well."

"They could provide valuable intel that we would not get without being on the inside, or nothing at all. I think it's worth taking a chance here."

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"I can't imagine something like Cora's decision being wrongful." Darrik stated calmly. "Given my reluctant thoughts on that matter, Utopia would be a better outreach than the Directive. The Directive is simply institutionally anti-nova. There's no way we can reach a real accord with them. However- though I don't think this may work in time for such a meeting... I'm going to be working on improving my shadow constructs... to actually make them truly self-aware and intelligent. Given that they can last for up to two weeks at a time... if we need representatives or deniable proxy agents... what better options than the kind I can customize to our needs?"

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"Alright, alright, let's not get too far ahead of ourselves here. Let's agree on goals before we figure out methods." Butch leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms across his chest.

"First, it sounds like most of us have it in our heads to act as guardians of humanity in one way or another. I think that's our main goal. Call it Goal Alpha or Prime or whatever."

He shifted and looked at Shaman, "You've got it in your head that we should just focus on saving the Children. I think that's too limited. Plus, like I said before, we're already doing that and it's part of the bigger goal."

Butch paused for a moment, then continued. "Now, I'm with Alex on this. The ultimate goal, like I said Goal Alpha or Prime, is to ensure the survival of humanity in all forms. That means baseline and nova. That means children, too. Everything else we mentioned works toward this goal. There are then two big sub-goals the way I see it that help us accomplish that. The first is dealing with Motherhunting. The second is setting up viable colonization scenarios.

"Dealing with Motherhunting protects humanity. First, it ensures the survival of children and fertile novas. If we eliminate Project Proteus, we eliminate indiscriminate assaults on novas like us and our parents. I don't think Proteus is something we're gonna be able to alter to the point where they accept some form of, and I hate to call it this, but, acceptable Motherhunting like Cora was describing. If their solution is sterilization and extermination, then they've got to go. Do you really think that's the type of group that can be negotiated with? Doubtful. And would we even want to?

"With something like Project Proteus out there, we also need to consider the reaction of other groups to them. Think about the Teragen. An antagonist like Project Proteus that targets Novas is exactly the type of thing that's gotta get Terats all frothing at the mouth and ready to blow shit up. I wonder why they haven't yet, matter of fact. Maybe they ain't got the same level of intel we have. Either way, get rid of a threat to them, we might just alleviate some global tension. Same probably applies to the Directive.

Butch took a deep breath, eyes narrowing slightly, then returning to normal.

"Colonization is either a failsafe or the next logical step for humanity. If war is inevitable, and if that war includes novas as powerful as us, then there is the potential that Earth could be damaged to a point where it becomes uninhabitable. Setting up colonies off-Earth could be the only way humanity continues if that war happens. If not, then maybe it's one of the things that prevents war. I think it'd be mighty unfortunate if what Alex mentioned, segregation of baseline and nova, came to be, but if that's the way it has to be, then colonization makes it possible. But, who knows? Maybe the drive to leave Earth and build something new on one of Jupiter's moons or some distant planet is the type of thing that brings baseline and nova together.

Once again, Butch looked at each of his siblings gathered around the table.

"A lot of the other stuff y'all mentioned would go towards accomplishing these goals, but first things first. How does this all sound? Can we agree on this sort of triangle of goals? Wardens of humanity at the top of the triangle. Dealing with Motherhunting and Colonization as the two points at the base of the triangle. And I'm just saying DEALING here. We ain't at methods yet. So keep it to dealing with Motherhunting. What do y'all say?"

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