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Aberrant: Children of Quantum Fire - Rainbow Room III: Mixing Colors

Karren Gaunt

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Time: Sometime in the week after Where Do We Go From Here

Place: The Rainbow Room

The doors to the Rainbow Room's main room opened to admit one Coraline Boehm, fledgling Nova super model and focus of new speculation by the planet's tabloids after her week staying with King Einherjar of Congo. She was here to get away from her family, have a good time with Norman, and, at least for a few hours, forget about the pile of reading she had waiting for her back aboard the Primus. The young metamorph's simple but enivitably stunning eufiber dress rippled from green to black as she took in a breath, it's wearer mentally soaking in the sheer soothing impact of the place through all five senses.

She was also here alone for the first time, both in the flesh and in her head, linked to the family by nothing but a device hidden on her person. It was a daunting feeling, but a good one, quietly confident that if something did happen in this safe place she could handle it. Not that anything would. Reassured by that final thought, Coraline opened herself to the world her around in the hopes of being the one to spot and ambush Norman this time around, a wry smile on her lips at how unlikely she thought it even as she processed the impressions coming in.

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Chang Zha-Yang sat with her fingers laced before her soft, flawless lips, a silent figure amidst a fountain of noise and lightning.

Her cock was pressed up against the base of her third breast, creating an obscene bulge in her ‘clothes’ as usual. Her hair was moulded into a simple leather halter top with an open circle at the chest which showed off her double cleavage, long leather leggings laced from thigh to knee and high heels that ought to have broken her ankles. The distinctive white raindrop tattoo remained just under her right, golden eye. The other was ochre for now, and both were bright points of light shining across the darkened room.

She was secreted away in one of many alcoves, an almost invisible space you had to know about to find where she could listen and watch, unbothered by the endless antics of the world’s hottest club.

Voices and sounds carried to her from all across the city, her perceptions too sharp to be limited by mere walls or addled by proximity to the thudding beats of dance music and the equal thuds of many hearts pounding blood to muscles. She picked up on every rustle of cloth, whispered word or brush of skin on skin. Someone out there was blinking rather loudly. The smell of them was sweat, sex and hairspray, neon paint and old latex. Latex was popular in the Rainbow Room.

Beyond her alcove a party was in full swing, termed Lights Out, the only light allowed being glow sticks, paint, eufiber or Nova trickery. Pandaimonion Terats were mingled freely in the crowd, giving them a show to remember the way they did every night. She knew that there were precisely two hundred and thirty nine people involved from the small tremors they sent through the floor with every step. Two of them were morbidly obese. Thirty were almost certainly anorexic. Most were healthy party-goers; here for a heady night of sex, drugs and things they would wish they could remember come morning. Ibiza things, in other words.

Idly, Chang stretched out her arms, elongating them without any effort whatsoever, making a simple geometric pattern of the lengths of limb, complicating it by weaving them together until it seemed a veritable spider web extended from her shoulders before terminating in those delicately fingered hands.

None of Lucrezia was at her side right now. All of her wife was out on the dance floor or in other parts of the Rainbow Room, scheming her schemes and moving pieces into place on the world stage. Chang had long learned to track Lucrezia through her footfalls. She had a distinctive gait, a precisely measured stride that only changed when impersonating other people. She always placed a few ounces of extra pressure on her forward foot, and had a bounce to it that spaced her steps out by a millisecond or two. Even with thirty of her out there, they all had that same gait. She was harder to track in a rave, though.

Her body yearned to be touched. It often did. She ignored it, pushing it to one side, and listened.

People came and went. She heard the bouncers name check every one. In her own head she added them to the list of people present. Many were powerful. Some were due for a painful encounter with reality inside the next few days. Narcosis had some axes to grind with a few of tonight’s VIP guests.

Chang rose from the ornate chair she had been sitting in. As she did it detached from the floor, compressing swiftly and losing form, changing from a mixture of ivory and ebony to soft pale flesh that morphed into her tight, flawless buttocks. Her clothes rippled, strands of hair extended and knit across her ass and closed up the halter top.

She opened the door of the alcove and stepped out into darkness. Her eyes were points of light out here, and they made her even more noticeable than ever. She paused a moment, watching the play of laser lights on the roof as people crossed beams and made awkward plays of colour on the walls.

Chang was suddenly pressed up against the wall, and lips touched to hers. They were not familiar to the touch, nor was the voice that said, “Hi, sexy,” her wife’s, but Chang knew her all the same.

“You must surely be addressing someone else,” she said. “To you I must be nothing more than two floating points of light. A pretty torch, perhaps, but still just a torch.”

“Mmm, more like a maglight,” she said, rubbing hard against her. Every touch was a seduction, every moment a precursor to lustful things. Chang felt the lick of Lucrezia’s tongue across the top of her breasts, and bright sparks of pleasure shot through her whole chest.

Though her breath caught, she mastered herself, and did not permit even a tremor in her voice. “You are not getting the erection you’re after, darling. Stop it.”

Lucrezia made a bare centimetre of distance, but nuzzled Chang’s neck all the same. “Aww, come on. It’s been hours and hours.”

“And is like to be hours and hours more. There are things on my mind.”

“I know you want me.”

“Always,” she said, truthfully.

“So why not take me. Here on the dance floor?”

“Because I’m not that much of an exhibitionist,” she replied, kissing Lucrezia back for the first time. “Besides, aren’t you entertained enough by the governor whose retinue you’re infesting?”

Lucrezia chuckled. “Too easy. He hasn’t even noticed I’ve replaced two of his aides, and he’s already let me in on some secrets I need. Bored now. I’m half tempted to have those two of me start making out in front of him to see what he does.”

Not that Lucrezia ever focused on just one scheme. There was too many of her for that. Most nights she attended a dozen different parties simultaneously, gathering information, making contacts, passing messages between Terats who dared not be seen together for one reason or another. And other nights all of her converged on Chang to make love, and she put aside the intrigues of the outside world just to love and be loved.

After a long, deep kiss, Chang shooed her back. “I have things to consider. The last pantheon meeting has raised some issues on which I am woefully under-schooled.”

Lucrezia leaned on the wall beside her. “Like what?”

“We talked about the children, mostly, demographics thereof, and their distribution around the world. Difficult to co-ordinate our efforts if we don’t even know what we’re coordinating on. War talks are back on,” Chang said, with a rueful shake of her head. “I will retire to my study for a while.”

“Okay. You want me to make sure you’re not disturbed?”

Chang lengthened her arm, coiled it around Lucrezia’s voluptuous body – she’d emphasized hips in this body – and gave her a squeeze. “Not necessary. If someone comes looking and they sound completely frivolous, I can probably do without their presence.”

“No problem. And now your biggest problem. Getting from here to the door,” Lucrezia said with a chuckle.

“Let me count the ways,” Chang murmured, pushing off the wall.

She squeezed herself completely flat, gasped a little as her shaft was compressed, then stretched along the outside wall until she reached the double doors. She slipped through the crack between them, retracted her torso, and bounced back into full shape on the other side.

Behind her, lost in the press of bodies, she heard Lucrezia whisper, “Well, that’s one way at least.”

Chang made her way through the Rainbow Room, nodding as she was recognized. Some called her ‘Queen’, others ‘Rain’, some just ‘Chang’. They were interchangeable really, but only Terats of her faction called her ‘Queen’ or her peers on the pantheon. It seemed as good an honorific as any, though it bothered her a little. She had always thought you could never quite trust the motives of someone who set themselves up as a monarch or ruler over anyone. She let it go, though. Her students, peers, and friends had elevated her and chosen the name. The Mirror Queen came about not through her choice, but more through a sort of class action. If the Teragen willed it, who was Chang to get in the way?

She heard a gunshot six miles away, and focused her attentions there for a moment. Someone screamed, another gunshot. She heard boots scraping on asphalt before colliding with soft human flesh. The crack of a baton – no – a baseball bat. Steel, too. The breaking of bone sounded, sharp and distant, followed by further gunshots and some curses. A gang fight most likely. She sniffed, trying to pick out the smell of blood amid the tumult, but her olfactory senses were yet to grow sharp enough.

As Chang ascended towards her study, she plunged a hand inside her central breast. It rippled liquidly as she softened the flesh, and a moment later after a little rummaging, she removed an iron coin. On one side it bore the Chinese character for life, on the other the character for death.

She let it play up and down her knuckles a few times, then spun it to one finger and flipped it into the air. For a moment she made herself not think. Otherwise she would calculate which way it could land. For a moment instinct ruled and she snatched it on the way down, then she sucked it into her palm and extruded it from the back of her hand.

It had landed life-side up.

Still walking up the steps, Chang stretched out her neck, lengthening it back down the stairs, round the corner, squeezed her head flat to slip underneath a door and then rose up beside one of the bouncers, a Nova oh-so-subtly named Da Hammer. He was black, muscular, very healthy-looking. After signing up with the QNA, Andy Vance had made him official guard detail in the then-Amp Room, and Da Hammer followed through in the transition to the Rainbow Room. He wore a T-Shirt with ‘We’re back and Gayer than ever!’ written on it in garish, brightly coloured letters. How subtle, she thought. Bless him, but I wonder if Andy can even spell subtle at times, let alone be it. Not that I’m one to talk.

“Hammer,” she said.

He jumped, then let out an odd sqwarking sound when he saw her head beside him. “Oh, miss Chang,” he muttered, his Brooklyn accent thick as ever. “I didn’t see you there.”

“Clearly. There is a gang fight happening in the parking lot of Meh’Lindi’s Bowls and Grill. A rather violent one. Meh’Lindi is a friend of mine and I’d rather she didn’t have to break up her evening to sort it out. Would you call the police?”

“Uh. Yeah, sure.”

She left him reaching into his pocket for his phone.

Her neck caught up with her body as she was squeezing through the cracks in the doorframe into her study. From time to time she opened doors, but only when she wanted to feel the ivory handle in her palm. It was easier, more convenient, and more pleasurable by far to warp and stretch herself through, around or under the door. Since her last chrysalis, Chang had developed a definite love of pleasure. In the past it had been more an unwanted tendency, something she regarded with a quirked eyebrow and a queer sense of uncertainty. Now she knew the place it held in her being, and embraced it.

Chang’s study had no furniture but bookshelves. She moved to the geometric dead centre of the room, turned to face the door, and her buttocks erupted outward. They flowed into a simple rotating chair, then spread across the rich red carpet and rose up before her to create a mahogany desk. By the time her flesh hardened, Chang was placing a book down upon it and opening to the first page.

This would be long, boring reading, but necessary. It might take a day or two to read everything. Her mind processed information fast, but not yet fast enough. Chang had been channelling quantum from her node through those centres of the brain for several months to try and spark some development. No luck as yet, though.

Idly, she played with her iron coin, eyes going over the exhaustive list of confirmed second generation children, the attached study notes and speculations, and so on and so forth.

As The Mirror Queen, Chang felt she had done right by the Teragen. But the last meeting had shown her inadequate to help the children. It was time to change that.

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Surge, more commonly known as Norman paid close attention to the potential visits by the beauty young woman who had so captivated his interest over the last month or two, someone who he liked a great deal, someone who in fact, he more then simply liked, she managed to touch his heart in such deep and interesting ways. He wanted their relationship to be more then it was, and was willing to go to considerable lengths to make himself available to the young nova when she made appearances here in the Rainbow room.

Of course, he also was meeting with and coordinating with the rising teragen faction known only as the children, and negotating with some of the leaders of the other factions, which had him in this area often enough, both the Casabanca's and the Pandemonium had activities centered in Ibiza. Of course, with regards to his lovely Cora, though she had yet to know it, he'd even purchased a copy of every picture she'd appeared in sense she started modeling, so when she appeared in the rainbow room, a moment later, so did he.

"Coraline, most lovely lady, it is wonderful to see you here again." He would take her hand and lift to his lips for a soft kiss if she let him.. actually, he wanted to sweep her into his arms and kiss her directly, but their relationship had yet to develop to that point.

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Coraline allowed him to do so, a simple happiness coloring her presently sun-kissed features, a further joy to her easy grace. "Norman," she spoke with more than a little affection in the two sylables, "I've been following your advise and had one of the most... interesting weeks in my life. I've never been so glad to be proven so wrong even if it took a place I wish my parents had had the chance to see to start trusting it. Thank you."

She chuckled then, a melody of happiness in chorus, and acted on an impulse that just felt right, leaning in to offer him a quick kiss on the cheek with the implicit problem of more to come in her body language. It really was nice to be around him, an entirely different and more... exciting nice than she felt around her siblings, more uncertain but somehow better. "Any wonders planned today before I share my own surprise?" she asked, a teasing cast to her smile quirking her lips, an expectant cast to her features.

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It was oddly more vibrant, Darrik noticed, having poured some effort into trying to gain some of the advanced senses of Cora and the rest. They had borne fruit, and to a certain degree, everything was definitely more thrilling that way. He easily noted Cora and Norman having that lover's expression. He knew soon enough it would progress. The signs were just there in their body language.

He had come to Ibiza for his own reasons, business, and he expected someone to be there whom he felt interested in talking to, and of course establishing his agreements. Two of them at least to be precise. But one he simply was intrigued by more than the rest, and he intended to find her. Although given her implication of increased senses and his wish to avoid notice, an idea struck him.

In moments, he faded away and became thin as a shadow, and practically floated his way through the mass parties. He knew where the more private rooms were, and discarded the ones which were more traditionally for fun. Most of the quiet rooms were unused, as befitting the contradiction being in this building. Darrik finally found the one- poking his head through the door to confirm Chang's presence before stepping out and fading into solid view in the hallway. "Hello, miss Chang. Might I be able to speak with you?" Darrik whispered.

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"Far be it from me to upstage my lady, please, show me your surprise, and then I will show you mine." Norman responded to her question with a hint that he had something for her, something new for her to see, whatever it might be, as he curled his fingers with hers and waited for her to take him wherever she wanted to show him what she wished too. There was a slight hint of pleasure from him as well, as though he was almost as happy to see her or even more happy to see her then she was to see him.

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"No network today. Just me and whoever I might let into my head," Coraline opened with a small measure of pride as she led them to one of the tables lining the area, not letting the wash of displeasure at Darrik's potential snooping against her most obvious objections and the rainlike pitter-patter of attention on her sixth sense bother her too much, not with Norman around.

Her voice dropped to a sub-sub-whisper, inaudiable to anyone without their degree of superhuman perception with ears more that few inches away from the fledgling super model's lips as hers were from the young terat's as she leaned in across the table, "And I think I can go faster than the speed of light. Without cheating like teleporters or warpers do. Want to take a day this week and explore with me as I find out? I've never left the atmosphere, and it seems like it could be... amazing, in the right company. Capture each other under the light of Jupiter or something."

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Norman took in her words for a moment, then smiled slightly and nodded. "Nothing I have on the table sounds as lovely as spending a week with the fastest and most lovely woman in the galaxy, wandering the solar system in her company, my little gift can wait for another day. Where would you like to go, my lovely Lady?" He smiled at her as he made his choice to spend the week with her, if indeed she was offering that he would be more then delighted to go along with the idea, as he said, there was nothing on the table at the moment quite as delightful as spending time with her.

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The reading went slow, as she expected. She could turn the pages faster than her eyes could read. Once she brought the two closer together these activities would flow more smoothly.

It came as no surprise that the data she had been provided focused on the deployment of Utopian motherhunters throughout the world. In some ways it was their best way of collating information on the whereabouts of breeder novas.

The book included some studies and extrapolations on the potential power levels and limits of the precious next generation, buoyed up by analysis of the children being raised by Bounty. By the looks of things all of the so-called elders would be reduced to the comparative level of invalids inside a few years, if not even sooner.

What a strange thing is a Nova, Chang mused to herself, to heap power upon power on those so young. She had been no different, though older when she erupted. These children were born powerful and in essence ascended to godhood in their adolescence. Wiser people than her would have called that madness.

The world was entering its own chrysalis by the looks of things. Whatever would it look like when it emerged?

She leaned back in her chair-self, pondering, her fingers linked.

Flooding herself with quantum, she expanded her perceptions further still, clarifying sounds, expanding the sphere of her understanding. Every footfall, every whisper, every eyeblink was hers to observe.

She listened as Norman and Coraline spoke, noting with interest his obvious amorous intentions. When Cora spoke of leaving the atmosphere, of trying to break the speed of light, her lips curved in a smile. Young love. Perhaps they would mate on the moon, or in the rings of Saturn.

Chang wished them well. The world they had been born into was unfair and cruel and broken, a testament to numberless failures piled atop one another with no fix in sight.

Her heart swelling with happiness, she noted the sudden disappearance of someone in the building. The impression they left on her mind was made by their steps, but as she thought back and focused on their place in the intricate web of her perceptions, she traced their path from the Rainbow Room’s door to their vanishing point. It seemed nowhere in particular, just a spot near one of the dance floors, not too far from Surge and Coraline.

Nova hijinks, no doubt.

She had grown well-practiced with how to apply her senses in a fruitful manner. The old intrigues of the Amp Room carried over to its successor without skipping a beat, and people were always coming here or going there, usually hoping only to be seen at certain points along the journey so as to be able to obfuscate their place, intentions or both. Chang always knew more than anyone wanted her to, and long ago ceased to count the number of clandestine whispers which her presence rendered altogether more public. Not that she often shared what she knew.

Chang was about to return to her reading when she felt the tremor of a new footstep right outside her door. After a moment’s thought and checking information, she ascertained it to be the vanisher from below. It seems I have a guest, she mused, already parting her hands and stretching her arm across the room to the drinks cabinet in the corner. I wonder what this is about.

Darrik’s voice, a mere whisper, reached through the door to her, though to her it were no more quiet than a nuclear explosion. "Hello, miss Chang. Might I be able to speak with you?"

“By all means,” she said, in a tone suggesting no hint of surprise at his presence. “Please come in, Darrik.”

When he entered, it was in time to see her arm retracting, with a glass and a bottle of wine in the grip of her lengthened, flexible fingers. With surpassing elegance she opened the bottle and poured for herself.

With a sound like the patter of rain on leaves, Chang extended herself, a film of her body pushing out from the base of her table and flowing up in a mass of flesh that hardened into a chair that swiftly shifted to mimic dark, rain-washed stone decorated with angels on their knees, covering their eyes against some unseen, unimagined horror.

She gestured across the table. “Please sit. I can fetch you a drink if you like. Some of my wines are excellent, though I keep a full range of other options. It’s necessary when Raoul comes to visit.”

if Darrik does want to drink she’ll do the stretch arm trick to fetch whatever he wants along with a glass

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Norman took in her words for a moment, then smiled slightly and nodded. "Nothing I have on the table sounds as lovely as spending a week with the fastest and most lovely woman in the galaxy, wandering the solar system in her company, my little gift can wait for another day. Where would you like to go, my lovely Lady?" He smiled at her as he made his choice to spend the week with her, if indeed she was offering that he would be more then delighted to go along with the idea, as he said, there was nothing on the table at the moment quite as delightful as spending time with her.

Coraline laughed, "No need to be hasty. We could go tommorow morning and still enjoy an evening here and *your* suprise before parting. My schedule's cerainly free if you don't mind me spending an hour or so a day doing katas trying to see something I haven't been able to see yet, part of my training to come. As to where we go, I'm sure we can work in stops to the more interesting planets and moons going from outside in or inside out whichever you think would be more impressive if you've gone before. See what they're like first hand before we might decide make them our own if we ever outgrow the world."

She grinned, unabashedly mixing a tiny bit of business into a very large ammount of pleasure. It was a spontenous grin, something no photographer had caught yet but Norman had been gifted any number of times now, hinting at a very teenage mischief to come if all went to plan.

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Norman squeezed her hand a moment, and shook his head slightly. "My surprise isn't here, it's something I've been working on for a bit sense I last saw you, a gift of sorts, something to properly honor the lovely lady I have enjoyed spending so much time with... if you would care to see?" He waited for her to nod, and then they would both simply be gone, leaving the rainbow room empty of their presence for a moment as they reappeared in what seemed to be a very large cave, which had clearly been worked so that the walls and floor were completely smooth. With a negligent gesture from him the room was suddenly lite as well, and she saw what he had been working on.

On one wall was what was clearly every modeling picture she had been in sense she started modeling, each of them carefully set out from the others, and then, a prefect replica of that pose and model in metal within the cave floor itself.. dozens of them circling around a centerpiece, which was her dancing, with a look of joy on her face, it was the kind of work that would have taken hours, even as a nova, and he'd clearly put work into making every one of the metal statues as perfect as possible.

"What do you think?"

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"Oh, Norman. This is..."

Coraline stopped talking, giving herself fully to thinking about the slightly-disconcerting marvel surrounding the two of them. Back when she was twelve, she had asked Uncle Shen to get her a camera so she could take a picture of herself everyday and use that as a basis for a project. It hadn't panned out to her satisfaction in the end, the resulting sculpture feeling too cluttered and then discarded as her muse moved onto some other more promising project.

This, though... Aside from there being more than a few poses that made her flush in embarassment that she had actually worn something like that and allowed herself to be photographed in them, it was like looking in a fun-house mirror of memory, their gleaming polished surfaces seemingly of six completely different models positioned around a seventh completely different woman. Norman had captured the subtle changes in each picture though, her slow flux shown in the changing proportions of her limbs in each day's sequence, of her face, of her... well, everything. Fascinating, and as she passed in front of another lingerie pose, embarassing to take in, how much work he must have put into this when she hadn't moved past inking in a few of the sketches she'd taken of him during their island gettaway. The little flame in the back of her thoughts burned hotter and higher, affection stoking closer to love with a promise to do more once she had the freetime to.

"Oh, Norman..," she exhaled, embarassed and delighted beyond the ability to conceal it, a flush on her cheeks as she came to a halt in front of the slightly larger than life dancing centerpiece, "You're going to tell me otherwise, but I'm not worth something this amazing. How long did this take, really take, not the way baselines count time?"

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"You deserved every minute, even now, I feel it's incomplete, but I would have you pose for me personally, to truly capture the beauty of lady before me." He went down to her as she moved among the life sized images centered around the central dancer, and he put his arms around her, holding her from behind and kissing her neck. "I'd say it took days to have it just right, to properly smooth out the edges and to give the impression of the subtle changes to indicate it's all one woman.. it could perhaps use a bit more work to bring out just the right touches, and to properly finish the cavern work, perhaps you would like to help me complete this work, my lady?" He also leaned forward and whispered in her ear at a much lower sub-vocalization, a hint of something teasing in it "Also, has anyone mentioned how adorable you look when you blush?"

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That didn't help at all, stoking the blush to new levels before her self-control won out again. Coraline enjoyed the feel of his body against hers, his lips on her neck, kept from purring her pleasure by a not inconsiderable act of will.

"Not since my Apothesis, no," she answered with the ghost of a chuckle and a wry look in her eyes that Norman could clearly see in their reflection on his work, "And it would be my pleasure to add what few final touches this might need. What did you see it needing besides a live session with the model herself? Tell me your vision of it, Norman."

Coraline's eufiber writhed out of it's simple gown configuration, giving the young terat a teasing almost feel of skin before it restablized into a painter's outfit of second-best shirt and shorts, a smock covering her front and a bandanna crawling up into place to protect her hair from potential paint and stone chip shrapnel.

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"Well, now, this lovely piece, which I call, 'Rapture in Repose' is incomplete, you are here in various state of dress and poises, but to truly be complete, several nude poses would be needed.. now, I could have extrapolated and done that myself, but," He gave her a almost smoldering look as he kissed the cheek of the lovely lady in his arms. "I won't do that without your permission or you posing for me personally." There was a hint of both teasing and seriousness in his tone, he was speaking the truth, but then, he was incapable of lying, though not of deception. "Although, your almost naked in some of those outfits anyway." His tone was teasing there, so that was both true, and he was definitely teasing as he spoke it.

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"How about I decide after our tour, Norman?" Coraline answered after an amused pause for thought, enjoying his company and the work he had made using her as a muse. She had never thought to be used as anyone's inspiration other than her own, although she probably should have once her node started playing this particularly interesting joke on her. And he was right about what it was missing and how close to nude some of these shots had her, she just had to give herself some time to wrap her head around the idea before she could say 'yes'. Not alot of time, but some.

She leaned into him, "Thank you, by the way."

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He smiled "It was a pleasure and delight, perhaps, we can revisit this work when we return, and you can add your own touches to this work, make it ours rather then just mine." He wrapped his arms around her, and kissed her, this time if she let him take it there, it would be a much more intense kiss then then the feathery one's that had gone between them the last few times, but at the end of the kiss they would be back at the Rainbow Room and he would move back just slightly to look into her eyes. "Now, shall we dance?"

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'Six hour until pick up. This shouldn't be so bad'

'So we decide to jump into the Rainbow Room instead of wading in someplace more low-key?'

'Too late now. Compared to Bombshell ... piece of cake.'

'How about getting past the front door first.'

Not a word was spoken to Shaman as he approached the bouncers at the door. They smiled and waved him through. He was a nova. More so, he was known by others to be a nova.

'So fast too.'

Inside, his mind was blown ... or it would have been a week ago. Now it was a powerful wave to the face, temporarily blinding, tearing at one's breath, and upsetting the balance of the body, but it passed.

(blink, blink)

'What ... where do we go first; the girl with feathers for hair, or the guy with armored plates and the flaming aura?'


'Point taken.'

*'We are all part of the river, so seek their place in it so that we can understand more.'

'What? Come on now. We are here to party!'

Shaman couldn't help but stare as he looked around. There were so many odd and beautiful people dancing and moving about, entwining in some quite inhuman ways. A few people took offense, but others responded to his gaze with looks of their own. Some would hold his gaze, while others would look, concentrate, then turn away apparently satisfied.

It turned out that the Flaming Armadillo (not his real name) didn't speak English, though he was helpful enough. He was waiting on some friends, he managed to get across. He worked underground for DeVries (miner?), and had been doing it for three(?) years. Not much for his first independent contact, but maybe his expectations had been too high.

'Is everyone here multi-lingual but me? I seriously didn't think this through.'

'Should I just call it a night?'

*'You use the tools you have to get where you want. Tools are mutable, as are goals.'

'Hmm ...'

'Let's dance and see what happens. The worst that can happen is that I dance alone.'


Shaman moved onto the dance floor, not really comprehending the music's subtle shifts, and nuanced undercurrents. He was fortunate that there were plenty of people to mask his inept steps. He got a big bonus when a woman(?) turned away from her partner and wrapped her octopus-like arms around him and pulled him close, faces barely apart. She had a scent that clung to her. She reminded him of the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean, unique and maybe unsettling to someone less in-tuned with the nature of things.

She looked him in the eyes, waiting for something.

'Chick wants something. Clues? Clues? Anybody?'

'Kiss her!'

Shaman stepped in close to his dance partner and kissed her. She responded with some intensity.

'Hmmm ... tastes like seafood ... not bad.'

'Sigh ... not Sakura either. Not as ... real.'

'Quick, while we got her here, say something!'

Shaman was still struggling for words when she winked to him and turned back to her original dance partner. He stood alone, very still, for a moment, then the crowd pushed in and he was getting buffeted on all sides. Coming back to himself, Shaman made his way back to the bar.

'Now I need a drink.'

"Hey Fleshy," a quill headed nova said as he stepped in front of Shaman. This nova had a claw for a left hand. He was also flanked by two other novas. One looked like a withered tree-man, while the other was bald, and naked, whose skin constantly shifted and whirled in a constantly cacophony of color.

The first nova stuck his clawed hand into Shaman's chest before continuing.

"Fleshy, we don't appreciate your gawking at us like we are some kind of freak. You are the freak here. Why don't you go home?"

'Why DON'T we go home?'

'The more you run, the harder it is to stop. So says the bear.'

"Listen, I'm here to see more people like me - novas. This is my first time, so cut me some slack."

Claw-hand pushed him ever so slightly. Drawing down the wrath of the bouncers wasn't advised.

"Unless you want trouble - real trouble - outside these walls, you will scamper away right now."

'Leaving is good.'

'Smacking his head against the bar is good too.'

*'The goal matters, not the means.'

Shaman felt himself stand taller, he popped his neck once, then looked down at the clawed hand in his chest.

*'Waves crash when it is their time; they don't ask permission.'

'Translate as: Do what I want, but not in anger.'

'You sure about that?'

'I hope so.'

"I don't know your name, and quite frankly, I don't care. I'm here to have a good time," he said his voice getting deeper and more thunderous. "My name is Shaman and I live in Kinshasa. Any time you want, come get some. Now, get your ugly ass self out of my way, because there are places I want to go that don't include you."

Shaman stepped around the claw and made his way to the bar. Their eyes were boring holes in his back, but he didn't really care.

"What can I get you?" the bartender said, having secretly observed the encounter.

"Something, anything, this is my first time in, so surprise me."

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He smiled "It was a pleasure and delight, perhaps, we can revisit this work when we return, and you can add your own touches to this work, make it ours rather then just mine." He wrapped his arms around her, and kissed her, this time if she let him take it there, it would be a much more intense kiss then then the feathery one's that had gone between them the last few times, but at the end of the kiss they would be back at the Rainbow Room and he would move back just slightly to look into her eyes. "Now, shall we dance?"

Even in the delight of Norman's kiss and the surge of emotion that accompanied it, Coraline noted their transition back to the Rainbow Room and shifted her eufiber to one of the more fetching evening gowns she had modeled that past week in Congo, the fabric flowing over her form like water over verdant hills into something that had the less-emotionally shielded novas in the room they appeared in struck with acute jealousy for the blue-skinned nova holding Coraline in his arms. She executed an artful spin on one heel when released, confessedly showing off a little as she took in the room and noting the presense of Shaman at the bar.

Okay. So she'd keep an eye out for him in case he needed any help. She had been a little surprised when he hadn't wanted to come back to the Primus with her, but she couldn't blame him with his Father to get to know. Heh. Be useful to convey her coming absense to the family, too.

That exchange of thought only took as long to finish as her spin and extend an arm for him to take, chorus of voices replying in the space between beats, "I thought you'd never ask, Norman."

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"A little light wine would do, thank you." Darrik replied, calmly accepting the glass Chang's stretching arm pulled out and filled with a white wine. He raised the glass in a toasting gesture, before he sat down in the elegant chair with a nod. "I come for two reasons. One, the bringing of gifts." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a flash drive- containing much of the data Alex's new recon systems had collated on Primus and Darrik had obtained. "Information on Proteus' activities of late."

After the drive exchanged hands, Darrik settled back and carefully studied Chang. "The other reason. Count Orzaiz said at the meeting that the heart of the Teragen drive is about freedom from baseline limits and chains. How do you see you freeing yourself? How would you free others? If the road leads to the outcome you desired most, what would it be?"

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Chang accepted the flash drive with a slight quirk of her brow. He must have liked what I had to say at Raoul’s party, she mused.

When Darrik finished she raised one straight, eerily perfect finger and said, “One moment.”

She whipped her arm out to the wall and ran her hand over a palm-sensor. Then she stretched her neck over to the same. “Shiv, could you come up for a moment?” Her arm extended as her neck retracted, bringing the flash drive over by the door.

A few seconds later it opened, welcoming in a statuesque woman.

Shiv was beautiful by any standard, though in current company she seemed almost plain. She wore a tight corset of stained red leather, tight over large, full breasts that were mostly on show. A leather strap went across the nipples, tight enough to dimple the flesh, buckled on the right with a padlock. A key of green jade hung from a necklace of pearls about her neck. Her lips were full and bright red, while her eyes were completely covered by a red leather mask, with white stitching down the centre. Both of her arms were behind her back.

“Yes, my queen?” She said.

“Our guest has brought a gift,” Chang said, and moved the stick an infinitesimal amount.

Shiv’s head snapped around towards it, so fast it might have been an automatic motion. The flesh of her heaving bosom warped subtly, a tendril of flesh snaked out and took the drive from Chang’s hand. “What’s on it?”

“Information on Proteus’ recent activities,” Chang said.

“Ah. I’ll keep it in my special place.” The tendril deposited the drive in her cleavage. It sunk in, seemingly of its own accord, and vanished. “Will that be all?”

“For now, yes,” Chang said. “How does the party progress?”

“Your wife is pining for you. I get one of her complaining every few minutes. Other than that, a few rowdy guests causing some occasional bother,” Shiv said. She shrugged, bringing into view the pattern of autumn leaves tattooed on her right shoulder. “I’ve politely informed them that we won’t be having any trouble. No knives.” She smiled.

“How good of you,” Chang said. “If my wife comes by again, tell her I’ll make it up to her tonight.”

Shiv nodded, then turned and slipped out of the room through the still-open door.

Chang returned her attention to Darrik. “My assistant,” she said, by way of explanation. “You could probably call her a secretary. She handles much of the organization for my little slice of paradise, or at least almost everything goes through her on its way to me and vice versa on its way to other Novas. Now, to your question,” she said, then paused to take a sip of her wine. When she spoke again, her four voices fell into an odd disharmony, one slightly behind the others to create a sort of self-echo.

“You should perhaps use the past tense more often. I consider myself quite free, now. It has taken time to get here, though.” Her mismatched gold and ochre eyes turned distant as she thought back over the long years of her journey. “For me it was always about my art. It’s a microcosm of self-expression, art, a direct window into the artist’s soul and what they’re thinking. Music especially, in my case, but over time I realized it was not enough. All it showed me was that I was hiding from myself.

“I freed myself by challenging my own ideas of what I was, and in so doing discovered what I really am. I believed myself to be a purely intellectual creature for the longest time. You may have observed my cock,” Chang said, her lip quirking in a smile. “I’ve had it for some time, but I largely resisted what it meant. People do that, Darrik. I don’t know if you do, as one of the next generation. But I certainly did, because it did not fit what I felt I was. My body, my very quantum, was telling me that I was something else, something more. It took a long time to realize how pleasure fitted in to my self-conception. Suffice it to say, I’ve settled that little demon. I raise it because my body was sending me signals; my quantum itself was telling me that I was hiding from my own nature. Still I feared to face it, and that held me back. Once I challenged that, and realized how pleasure fitted in to the person I have become, things went somewhat more smoothly. There were other things along the way, big and small. You can never grow easily if you’re at odds with your own nature, and what growth you achieve can be stunted, twisted. You’ve seen the consequences, I’m sure. This applies metaphysically for baselines, but for us it is a much more literal and altogether more physical truth.”

Chang gave a minor toast in his direction and took a deep drink. “This will become a ramble if I try to fully explain. I freed myself by challenging my self-conceptions, and most of all, by refusing to allow myself to be complacent. Every moment of every day of my life, I strive to test my limits, to push toward something. I must leave it at that, else you’re sure to grow bored with the grisly details.

“The problem with your other lines of enquiry is the same as it was back in the Congo. What freed me will not work the same for everyone. Broadly speaking, any Portent will grow and learn through the same methods. Challenging their self-perception, throwing aside comforting illusions, testing their limits, these are the ways a Portent grows. The exact form will vary Terat by Terat, and as a mentor my role often falls into helping them find that. Believe me; the process can be very messy if unguided. As for outcomes,” Chang shrugged. “There is no outcome, Darrik. Life is life. It goes on, and for us, it goes on and on. Change is a never-ending process, and my third chrysalis will come eventually. I don’t know how I’ll change, or what I’ll be when I emerge, but I do know I’ll be better. I’ll be more me, and less who I think I am.

“Accordingly, I can’t free anyone myself. They have to free themselves. All I can do is point the way, and do my best to help them when they have questions. I can teach them to meditate, help them learn to apply their powers in a way that assists them to grow and redefine their interaction with the world, talk through moral quandaries or philosophical issues that arise. But the real work always has to come from within. That’s where every true revolution starts; inside the revolutionary.”

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Darrik's face remained speculative on the outside, but inside he felt as if a chord had been struck within himself. Which seemed almost like a cry of sexual pleasure inside- which fitted the situation.

"I’ve had it for some time, but I largely resisted what it meant. People do that, Darrik. I don’t know if you do, as one of the next generation. But I certainly did, because it did not fit what I felt I was. My body, my very quantum, was telling me that I was something else, something more."

The way his appearance radiated sexuality on a level that completely created love and lust on a higher level even more than the other mega-handsome or beautiful novas. Darrik had always been quite the incubus, and the enforced limits on his carnality before he met Gwen and Agatha had been stifling. Perhaps because it really was.

"I freed myself by challenging my self-conceptions, and most of all, by refusing to allow myself to be complacent."

He'd been trying to stay faithful to Gwen and Agatha, whom he truly loved. But even a shapeshifter and a cloning woman couldn't cover all the subtleties of desire and want that Darrik could see in many, including Chang herself. Or the temptingly big breasts of Shiv.

Even in his younger teenage days, he had never truly gone the full burst of 'blossoming', and certainly not since Apotheosis.

"Yes," he admitted, "it starts with me. I was starting the search for the like-minded... But my mind wasn't in the right place."

"Are you as beautiful as you seem, a paragon and marvel who personifies all that is wondrous in Nova?"

"I remember your words in the Congo. I'm not a Portent, Chang. I am a wondrous marvel though." He announced, his voice suddenly taking on the aspect of... something utterly, lustfully rising from its cocoon. So did his visage as well. He smiled at her, and if Aphrodite were to be looking at him that moment, she would have at that moment cursed him for outshining her even as she became overcome with desire.

"Wouldn't you agree?"

Activated Seductive and Seductive Looks... which ARE doubled in potency by Heartthrob.
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Chang studied Darrik as he spoke. As he finished, though, and his voice changed, she stopped breathing. His words were a sexual hammer battering against the walls of her mind, reaching for a lust for men that lay buried deep in her soul. He possessed an indefinable quantum-charged ‘something’ that her body could not resist, that cut past definitions of male and female, that was desire itself.

There was an audible creak of flesh and leather as her halter top warped around her stiffening shaft. Always huge, in its erection it grew monstrous, near as thick as her torso and straining to escape its confinement.

Yet for all that, her expression did not change. No gasp escaped her lips, no tremble entered her limbs. She was well familiar with the seductive and lustful just from her wife’s many ministrations. Darrik thrust the raw quantum grunt of his essence against her mind, but he showed no intent to add a subtler, more directed seduction to it.

Chang exerted the inexorable power of her will, which had driven her from before even her eruption, and quelled the lust he stirred in her. The cock still twitched, a leather-clad distortion in her clothes, but Chang leaned back in her chair-self, laced her fingers, and raised one eyebrow.

“My dear boy,” she said, “In other surroundings I might accuse you of attempting to lower the tone.”

She studied him. He told a story in his posture. Even now, exuding godlike beauty, there was a tone of relief to his exquisite features, a faint hint of vulnerability in the look of pure desire he threw at her. She watched his form and features shift a little, becoming more feminine to appeal to her desires.

The urge to cast off her own mental shackles stirred in her breast, the desire to grow beyond of human seeming and flex her tendrils. But there was a time and place for that, and this was not it. For a creature such as Darrik, sex was a very literal power. It would be weakness to show such obvious vulnerability to it.

Chang extended her neck, stretching it around Darrik in a wide arc to see him from every angle before retracting once more. “Yes, you are rather impressive. No wonder everyone goes gooey over the next generation. Does it hurt you, being like this?”

Her eyes changed colour, then. The ochre eye darkened until it turned black as pitch, the golden eye flared brighter for a moment, went out, then blossomed up once more shining green, the iris like a fresh-cut emerald, luminous in its socket. Her eyes themselves became more sharply slanted, more classically Japanese than Chinese, so she seemed more a character from an old wood-block carving than a real woman.

“No, not hurt,” she said, and narrowed her eyes as she studied him further. “It makes you uncomfortable. You’ve been resisting this. I see. You’ve fallen in love with someone, haven’t you? You’re worried about betraying them, perhaps? No matter. I think I’m close enough to the truth even if I’ve missed a detail or two. I’ve always thought exclusivity is a baseline concept and largely inapplicable to Novas. You’re not the only one with desires that a single woman struggles to fulfil. You will have seen at least one of Lucrezia, there’s always twenty or so of her around, and I still occasionally bed Shiv or other women around me. Admittedly, my,” she glanced down at her protruding cock, “proportions somewhat narrow my options. Even if I stick to Lucrezia I tend to devour a half dozen of her and fuck six others into insensibility before I’m done.

“By baseline standards we would both be perverse, possibly monstrous, or both. But it’s not true. I love Lucrezia as deeply as I’ve loved anyone. When she so much as winces in pain I get a stab in my heart, and the last time she was severely hurt I’ll freely admit to being rather irrational. The truth of the matter is that our libidos are inhuman in both details and proportion. In my case, it’s difficult to be satisfied unless I draw a lover inside my body, and that is nothing new. I changed that way very early in my journey. A baseline took me to court on accusation of rape over it. You may wish to look up the details of the case some time. I assure you, it’ll be informative.”

Chang’s mouth twisted into an ugly expression. She refilled her wine glass and swirled the liquid, eyes upon it. She listened to the party for a few moments, caught her wife speaking with more than two dozen throats, playing some sort of game with visiting businessmen. By the sounds of things she was using her copies to set them against one another, literally passing news from one to the other as she winkled It out. Whatever she was up to, it involved moxinoquantamine. Chang determined to ask her later.

“You will receive the same before long. Not that a court would ever convict you. Such was the case with me, and I have a hundred times the presence now as I did then. Even with my changes, baselines will do almost anything if I smile. It’s quite contemptible, really. Not that they respond so readily, no, but because I know – better than anyone – what they say the moment they feel I’m out of earshot. That is their strength, though. Hypocrisy does no harm to a baseline. You and I, though?” She shook her head. “We cannot afford such luxuries. We must see ourselves for what we are, and come to terms with that truth before it undoes us.”

She paused for a moment, looked him over, and nodded. “Well. If a marvel you are, then so be it. The question is ‘what next’? I take it from the general tone of this conversation and your obvious lowering of barriers that you wish to explore Teras?”

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Darrik had never really intended to seduce her, merely break through that self imposed limitation. Chang's analysis was spot on, and his wordless acknowledgment of that fact was clear. "I had decided that. In truth the original intent of the questions, was to find those like-minded novas you also spoke of. That still stands, though at the moment my wish is not to interrupt Norman and Cora's date. Might Narcosis be around?"

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Chang shook her head. “I am afraid not. She stepped out on personal business and left me to attend to business in the Rainbow Room. We are co-leaders of the Pandaimonion these days. It’s an efficient arrangement for her. The group’s grown a lot after Pax and Gloria’s run-in with our more militant peers.”

She gestured vaguely at the door. “If it’s like-minded novas you’re after, the dance floor has many. However, go with a warning. You’ll need to become adept at appraising those whose attentions you want, and also learn how to deflect those attentions you don’t want. If that is against your nature, you will instead need to parcel yourself out piece by piece, appearing only when the time is right and amongst those you choose. Take Shiv, for example. She’s beautiful, unquestionably, but she has a bad history with men and her body is a thousand times more deadly than it is beautiful. Until very recently, when I encouraged her to face her past and deal with it more constructively, you could have seduced her but she would have killed you for the attempt. Shrapnel – you may have heard of her – might well do the same. I dread to think what Geryon or Leviathan might do. It is easy to become complacent in one’s beauty, but never forget, Darrik, that there are those who take great joy in seeing beautiful things destroyed. These people will gravitate to you over time.

“If you have further questions, I can probably answer them. Where the Pandaimonion is concerned there’s little Narcosis knows that I don’t. If it’s more direct guidance concerning the Teras path of the Marvel… well, there’s more than just her around. It may interest you to know, by the way, that Shiv follows the path of the monster.”

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"Well," Darrik speculatively said, deciding the maximize the potential chance to get both advice and acclimating to his acceptance of self, with a coy grin that sparked a momentary jolt of want in Chang, "I could handle both those options at once, if you cared to accompany me to the dance floor."

Chang, intent on aiding a new member of the Teragen, had no qualms about accepting. "Of course." Darrik rose, and so did she, the chairs, furniture and other flesh-frozen items returning to her beautiful buttocks, and then covered by hair garments.

As they left for the dance floor, Darrik began to ask some of his questions. "You've said that Norman's faction is largely composed of the young, newly erupted and 2nd generations. What is their general philosophy, if one?" His siblings, an object example of likely disunity.

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As she reabsorbed the chairs and table, Chang extended her limbs to return her book, glasses and wine bottle to their places in the study, and left it as it had been, bare of furniture, clean and tidy.

She walked with her hands folded behind her back, eyes straight ahead. “The Children of Teras are new and emerging,” Chang said as they headed down the stairs in the direction of the dance floor. “So far they have mostly been pushing for separation between baseline and Nova, a place to call their own. As yet Surge has not put a solid plan forward for how to accomplish this, but they’re discussing various options. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve contacted the Daedalus League and just about anyone else that has options on that. You’d have to ask them for the details. As yet Surge listens more than talks, but I get the impression that the faction is going through some teething troubles.

“It’s difficult to determine the best course of action when most of those involved are in some manner tainted and have differing issues. How do you find one environment that fits all? If you cannot find one, what then do you do about the pieces that don’t fit? It’s quite the confusion, as they’re no doubt discovering. I’m confident we’ll have something solid out of their quarter before long, though, and it might well be for the good of all of us when we do.”

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As Darrik danced with Chang and Cora did with Norman, on the main room dance floor, they drew more and more attention, mostly Darrik actually, but Norman and Cora were also drawing a measure of attention, as the four of them wove together with the other dancers, they were among the most powerful nova's there, though Andy Vance was close... in a baseline crowd they would be mobbed by now, in this crowd, it was less so, but numerous folks were joining the dance just because they were dancing, and others were moving into the orbit of the central four, more then one of them, both male and female fully intending to make propositions of the sort that may or may not be welcomed. Still, about 25% of the nova's present had ways of resisting the affects of certain sexually focused abberations, and another 15% possessed superhuman degrees of self-control to appear unafected, but that left 60% draw into the mess... out of a little over 120 novas.. Meanwhile, the folks who were beside Shaman were now fully distracted and most of them leaving to join the dancers.

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Having so recently lost himself bitterly to such an emotional storm, Shaman recoiled.

'Whoa buddy? Isn't this why we came here? You are afraid and don't even know why?'

'But I'm afraid.'

'Fear is the poison of the unknown, nothing more. Face the unknown and grow. Don't recoil or the poison will sap your strength; your ability to see Creation as it truly is.'

'Yeah, what I just said ... I think.'

'I'm still afraid.'

'You are not alone. You have never been alone. We have always been with you, no matter what has happened, is happening, or will happen in the future.'

(goes looking for the Cliff Notes on Spooky Spiritualism)

'Okay. Got it. I'm cliff-diving. Just scream and get it over with. In the end, its just water.'


Shaman throws himself (not literally) into the crowd, letting himself get lost int he music and the quantum rip currents that engulfed him.

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For Coraline, the Rainbow Room wasn't a place for thinking, as close to a perfect place as she knew, all five senses pounding with input that was one act of relaxation from a flawless focus on the now. Add Norman and his bracing example as a dance partner to the mix and her worries really didn't stand a chance, throwing herself into what she was doing with an innocent joy that showed in every movement, a smooth counterpoint to her partner. These counterpoints rippled out along those novas most imediately in her sphere, drawn by her grace and looks despite her merely baseline charisma compared to the other three.

Coraline had never regreted being born with a node despite everything, and it was moments like this that slammed home how lucky she was. The chance to be nova just for the sake of being nova between the all too many problems they faced.

She did catch a glimpse of her brother's dance partner from the corner of one eye, nearly faltering midspin at the exoticness of the heavily-aberated woman. A heartbeat's worth of quantum-touched sight gave her enough of a glimpse to hazard a guess why the apparent woman was so changed by taint and yet so functional, a guess she whispered aloud next time she spun back in next to Norman, "So. Who is that very interesting terat dancing with my brother?"

Quick touch of Quantum Attunement to spot the mobius twist of Chrysalis in White Rain's Node

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Chang Zha-Yang had never been much of a stage performer. When she released under Pantheon Productions, Chang insisted on running medium to small venues where she would be close and visible to everyone present. She always played sitting on a stool, so nothing would distract from her music and singing. As her portfolio expanded, she showed the world painting and poetry, sculpture and tapestry.

Few people realized she could dance.

She danced with passion and grace, her movements wild and inhuman, limbs rendered just flexible enough that when she gave a wild turn or twist they whipped after her before snapping back. All but the rarest few Novas faded in comparison, seeming clumsy or awkward compared to the passionate storm she became. Those nearby tried to match her pace, or else were content to watch and admire a sight rarely seen.

Chang danced to the rhythm of the Rainbow Room, her pace set not just by the music but by the pounding of a hundred feet and hearts, the pulsing of blood and other substances, the ripple and creak of cloth and eufiber. She breathed in the scent of the place, impregnated with earthed aggression and sexual tension, flavoured by spilt drink and Narcosis’ world-famous drugs. Her dance was the dance of life and love, tempered by an almost righteous glory in her Nova nature and pure joy in the gifts her eruption granted to her.

Those gifts brought their mutters of admiration and surprise, along with the quieter, subtler whispers of those who hoped to say private things under cover of the distraction. She listened, sifted, discarded those things of no interest and recorded those that were. When Coraline mentioned Darrik being her brother, she made a special mental note. Perhaps the other intended to join the Teragen as well.

Darrik disappeared, and was replaced by a woman who tried to match her but failed, yet grabbed Chang’s attention by giving her cock a hard squeeze. “Hello, Lucrezia,” Chang said, twirling. She lengthened her arms high above her, stretched her torso with them and coiled her limbs into a flawless helix configuration. She whirled and spun for a dozen revolutions, twisting her torso like a rope. It felt good to stretch. It always had. She exulted in it, and in the sharing of this gift with everyone in the room.

When her fingers brushed the roof of the Rainbow Room, Chang let out an excited moan and rapidly twisted back the other way. She contracted and snapped back to her normal proportions, followed the momentum through into a final spin, and lay back into her wife’s arms. She smiled up at her. “Shiv says you’ve missed me.”

Lucrezia’s face was coloured with complex tattoos, her hair was long and dark, framing dark eyes burning with lust. This body had a slender look. Without a word she kissed Chang on the lips, full on the dance floor. Her long, serpentine tongue slithered into Chang’s mouth and deep into her throat. After half a minute she broke it off, panting. “Shiv is quite obviously a damned liar.”

She pulled her supporting arms back. Chang put one hand down and lengthened her arm to push herself back up to her feet. “She’s probably damned, but I’m not at all sure she’s a liar,” Chang said, smiling.

They walked off the dance floor and up a short set of stairs to overlook it. Chang parted her ‘clothes’ over her buttocks and swelled them out in an extravagant wash of flesh that formed swiftly into a pair of stools and a round table, before the flesh shifted to mimic the furniture throughout the club.

Lucrezia frowned. “I need to lounge, beloved. Fix it.”

Chang expanded Lucrezia’s stool into a full couch, bent into a curve so she could lie down and display herself. She was wearing a black dress, patterned with red roses. “Loungey enough for you, or do you require something more exotic?”

“It’ll do,” she replied, and purred. “Shiv said you’ll make it up to me later,” she said, reaching under the table to stroke Chang’s leg.

“Of course I will. With the emphasis on later.”

“I’m getting hungry, though,” Lucrezia said, a little playfulness fading from her voice and posture. “If you don’t fuck me soon I’ll have to seduce someone from the dance floor.”

Chang put a hand over her heart. “You have my sympathies, darling. Whatever will you do? After all, the Rainbow Room only plays home to the vilest our kind have to offer.”

“I should throw something at you right now, but as I only have kisses to hand,” she turned her head left, then right, and her neck extended. She gasped, clenched her tongue between her teeth, and stretched all the way across to Chang and kissed her again.

As they kissed, Chang listened to the soft latex creaking of Lucrezia’s flesh. The noise betrayed the reality of her. Lucrezia could be solid when she wished, but she felt more comfortable in her other form, a mass of liquid and morphic latex. The skin of her stretched out neck had darkened a little, betraying its true nature, though those with the ears to listen could hear it well enough.

Lucrezia snapped her neck back and shook her head.

Chang watched her, smiling. She could hear and feel a half dozen of Lucrezia’s copies nearby, dancing and talking. Her wife’s passion was always a little infectious. Chang knew herself to be beautiful, but she never truly felt it save when Lucrezia was in her presence.

Of course that was a little silly. Lucrezia’s hunger made her lustful by nature, and anyone could satisfy her need. She could make anyone feel beautiful when the need overtook her. Still, Lucrezia's years with Chang had twisted her desires. These days she all but resented sleeping with men, protesting that they were almost always ‘smaller’. in truth, she always urged Chang to reshape herself when they made love, so she would be even larger. That always earned Lucrezia some unusual looks, but she was long, long past the point of caring for such opinions beyond the amusement they could offer.

At that moment, Lucrezia’s body liquefied, flowed upwards and then solidified with her sitting once more, her arm on the back of Chang’s couch-self, stroking back and forth. “Well, that feels better. Sorry, just getting a lot of emotional feedback," she made as if to fan herself with one hand. "I’m pretty busy right now.”

“I can hear. How much fun can one person have?”

“Lots when there are thirty of you having it.” Lucrezia looked out over the dance floor. Chang followed her gaze easily, and saw her focusing on a young man she had never seen before.

“Is that a new friend of yours?”

“New to the club,” Lucrezia said. “Had a tiff with Razorspine at the bar earlier, but it didn’t go far. Shiv had a quiet word with him and he’s behaving himself again. Something feels odd tonight, beloved. More aggressive than usual. I don't know why.”

Chang’s eyes fell across Shaman, dancing amongst novas who took to the dance floor like fish to water. He seemed to be having fun. “Darling, could you take Razorspine to one side and tell him I’ve observed a pattern in his behaviour over the last few weeks, and that I do not approve?”

Lucrezia gave Chang a look. She said nothing, but a gorgeous latina danced her way to Razorspine’s side at the bar and, giggling, leaned in to whisper something. The quill-headed nova frowned, glanced up at Chang. The eruption had not blessed him with beauty. His was a warrior's body, and he frequently ran with Geryon in Nova Vigilance, defending his fellows against baseline predations.

Chang stared at him, her mismatched and glowing eyes meeting his piggy pair. He bared his teeth at her, and Chang put the full force of her displeasure into her gaze. Her look became a glare, her orange and violet gaze became as focused and intense as a pair of lasers drilling into his brain.

Razorspine’s quills twitched and flickered, then went abruptly limp. He looked away so fast he almost lost his balance. After a few more moments he downed his drink, slammed the glass on the bar, and stalked towards the exit. The glass cracked and fell apart, much to the bartender's irritation.

Chang using a bit of dat Dreadful Mien to cow Razorspine there

Chang sighed. “I did say to take him to one side, darling. I don’t particularly like causing a scene.” She wrinkled her nose in distaste. Already she could hear a half dozen different novas commenting on the exchange. Even with a busy dance floor between them, many of the Rainbow Room regulars could pick up most of what occurred. Geryon would probably send an angry message through the OpNet. Sometimes it all felt quite wearying.

“Oh, please. It’s not like he’d dare do anything to you. He's a kid, and not in the good way that means he was born of nova parents. Shiv would rip his entrails out and hang them around his neck like a funeral wreath. It might help him stop being so sour all the time.”

“I am hesitant to concur,” Chang said, moving her gaze from Shaman to Surge and Coraline. Their evening seemed to have gone on undisturbed. Of course, Surge could turn most novas to paste himself, so that probably helped. She thought back to what Coraline had said while she was dancing. "Lucrezia, I have a query. Coraline and Darrik, did they arrive together or separately?"

"Separately. Quite a bit separately, actually. He wandered in and phased out. I assumed we scared him off. The Rainbow Room can be a bit overwhelming for a fist-timer," she said, now peering over the dance floor in Darrik's direction. "He's having a whale of a time now, though." After a few moments, Lucrezia rose and arched her back. “Well, I still sense you’re not in a fun-having mood. I allowed myself to hope after seeing you on the dance floor but I should have known better. I,” she said haughtily, “am going to hog the attention of that male friend of yours. I’ll have a drink sent up to you, though. No, don’t ask, I know. You’re in that sort of mood, and we both know it helps you think.”

Lucrezia hopped the rail and dropped into the dance, landing mid-move, slotting into the rhythm as smoothly as if born to be part of it.

Chang waved at her, as her wife reshaped that copy, becoming someone new, and disappeared into the throng. If the pair arrived separately, she supposed they must be here on separate business as well. Nonetheless, she wondered if they knew what the other was up to. Membership of the Teragen had a rather dividing effect, unfortunately. Still, if one joined the Teragen and the other dated a member of the Pantheon, it should not be too difficult to accept any difference of opinion on the subject. Perhaps she was one of the Children of Teras, and the news had simply not passed up the grapevine. For all his charms, Norman had a secretive side to him and tended not to be forthcoming about his faction's comings and goings.

A few moments later, Lucrezia, pretending to be a waitress, came up to Chang with a tall cocktail glass in hand. This one was long-haired, blond, yet with oriental features, all curves squeezed into a revealing outfit. “Your drink, ma’am,” she said, putting the drink down with a curtsy.

Chang inclined her head and picked it up, then took a sip and reshaped her stool to have a high back. She leaned into it, thinking about her meeting with Darrik and the things they had talked of. Darrik would be the first of the next generation to join the Pandaimonion, if things progressed in obvious order. Narcosis would be very pleased to meet him, of that she had no doubt.

Times are changing, she mused. And these beautiful and terrible children will lead the way. She wondered, though, how long it would be before the children outshone the elders for good and all. And when that happened - and it would happen - how would they respond? Tarik and Marcel had come together to try and twist the children in the Nursery to their own ends. They would not be the last to try.

She sipped her drink, listened and pondered, wondering which of her Terat brothers would be next to prove themselves false.

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"That would be Chang Zha-Yang, also known as White Rain, or the Mirror Queen, one of two major leaders of the Pandemonium... and unless we speak telepathically or over radio waves, she can hear everything we say... she'll generally politely pretend otherwise, but she certainly is likely to make use of anything said between us that she can overhear. She can be more subtle then you would expect, especially when working through or with her wife, who supports her extensively... she's much wiser then her surface persona suggests and she's very open sexually, in part due to the changes she's worked into herself during Chrysalis. Both Divis Mal and the Countl listen to her even more then they do with regards to Narcosis who she's got a sort of alliance with, but she's also more strongly allied with some of the other factions within terat... " Includng myself and my father, was something that was unspoken..

"Would you like to speak with her, I can introduce you, she has a rather favorable reputation within the Children of Teras over Narcosis actually, we particularly enjoy her musical work, I particularly liked On the Edge of Infinity and I'd love to spend some time with you listening to Veils of Silence" It was something of a complement, one he knew she would overhear.

Should Cora indicate a desire to meet her, he would simply transmit them outside of the dance and down to her table.

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Ah. Someone who didn't filter what they heard. Interesting. She'd have gone insane years ago if she hadn't forced herself to ignore her sibling's conversations that didn't directly include her.

"Sounds like an interesting woman to meet if you don't mind sharing me for a bit before we leave and interesting music if you enjoy it. I should pay attention to more media if I'm going to be in it," Coraline replied with a nod, not missing a beat or a step, "But how about after this song finishes? Wind up our turn on the dance floor on a high note?"

And with that, the young metamorph did indeed kick it up a notch, quantum fed into her feet to push her performance to a new high and smile daring Norman to keep up if he could. She fought off the temptation to boost her apperance, too, a little voice warning against showing off too much more as is.

Physical Prodigy.

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There were some striking women on the dance floor, novas that caught the eyes and held the libido’s undivided attention. Kylie Durham wasn’t one of them. She was pretty, through a concerted effort over the years of learning how to flatter the features she’d been given. But in a world of Bombshells and Maia St. Croixs, pretty wasn’t good enough.

It was this fact that was a burning wound in her soul. Her gifts were not geared toward being beautiful, and most days, that was fine. But sometimes, the fact was a cancer in her soul, gnawing at her self-worth. She didn’t allow those thoughts to fester long, because she couldn’t allow them to build up. It killed her to think of herself as somehow less just because she wasn’t nova-levels of hot. She wasn’t less; she was brilliant and the only nova in the world who could turn into Roentgenium. She was awesome.

Tonight, she was dressed to kill. Her body was perfectly shaped, if a bit lighter in the breasts and hips than she liked. But her black dress clung to her curves in an appealing way and her brunette hair was in a bun, with just a few tendrils hanging to frame her features. Her makeup accented her golden eyes; the nuclear fires that burned in her quantum were evident in her eyes, which appeared to be a roiling inferno of burning Roentgenium. She was hot.

But that pep talk almost wasn’t enough when she saw him. He was a nova; she’d seen his pictures in various sites that followed novas, but she hadn’t really followed him. Now she wished she had; she wanted to know more about him. She could probably look up information on her phone, but without a name, she could waste a lot of time looking for him.

Or, she could go up and introduce herself. Gazing at his perfect face, she decided that was much better.

Aura eased out onto the dance floor, bee-lining for the guy. His sculpted features filled her sight; his black and red hair invited her fingers to touch it. And those piercing red eyes… she wanted him. She had to talk to him. Gliding between the men and women starting to crowd him, Kylie managed to get to his side. Lightly, she touched his arm-

His eyes turned to her and Kylie gasped. There was a complete, instant connection – and he felt it too. She could see it in his eyes. Their souls touched through the windows known as the eyes and Kylie fell instantly in love. “Hi,” she said, her golden eyes wide.

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Darrik turned as someone tapped on his arm lightly. Even with all the other men and women trying to get a dance (and undoubtedly more) with him, the momentary focus of the new woman, golden burning making him quirk a smile at her- unknowingly feeding Kylie's passion. She seemed a bit more interesting than all the other admirers, and he was feeling intrigued on a whim. "Hello. I presume you want a dance?"

Her nod was most eager, and he took her hand and a few glances cleared the reluctant others- including a few different women on the periphery moving seemingly in unison- and they began to slowly dance. Darrik's enhanced touch found the smoothness of her skin pleasing and the eyes were the best part of her. "It's a lovely fire in those eyes." He commented, making her blush. "Oh? Surely you've heard that before?"

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“Kinda,” Aura told him, her fingers playing over his shirt and waistband of his pants. “They generally do focus on my eyes, but sometimes it scares people.”

The perfect man smiled and Aura felt her arousal shoot from her eyes down to her groin. She eased a little closer to him, loving the way their bodies meshed so perfectly. “It doesn’t scare me,” he assured her. “What’s your name?”

“Aura… or Kylie,” she replied, giving him a goofy grin, soft and loving. She reached up and ran a finger over his jaw, shivering at the feel of his skin. “What should I call you?” Oh, that was perfect – better than admitting she didn’t know his name. Make him think she was giving him the choice of what to call him.

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"Darrik." The gorgeous youth stated without hesitation. Of course, though Darrik admitted in his mind that her intentions would as of his new self-acknowledgment be now welcome- there was every reason that required he refrain for the night, so that he could properly discuss matters and get Gwen and Agatha to understand and accept the state of affairs. Still, he had no qualms about returning the favor to Kylie's jaw, with his other hand idly stroking her hip.

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Kylie shivered and moaned softly at his touch. Her entire body was ignited by his touch; electricity arced over her nerves in the trail left by his touch. Her heart was racing as she gazed up into his eyes. She would do anything for him - he just had to ask. "Darrik," she whispered, tasting his name on her tongue. "Let's go somewhere quiet," she whispered, standing on tiptoe so her warm breath tickled his ear. She she drew back, she saw the hesitation on his face. "We don't have to do anything you don't want," she added with a purr. "I'd like to talk with you for a while."

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Darrik stepped back in, leaning in close in to Kylie- about to whisper in her ear- her heart pounded like rapid-fire drums. "Tonight's not the night. And everyone else's been waiting patiently..." He whispered, but before the downer could set into her, he added with a purr, "But I do hope to meet you again soon enough. Until then-" His face gravitated to her's filling her eyes with an overwhelming smile.

Darrik pressed his lips against her's, and she responded fervently, his tongue tapping at her lips like knocking on a door. She let him enter and consume her mouth, and then he broke away. It had been so filled with unbridled sensuality, and yet coyly held back, as if Kylie had only gotten a tiny faction of what Darrik could give. A wink, a smile, and then he moved on, giving Lucrezia's clone the break they'd been looking for.

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Ah. Someone who didn't filter what they heard. Interesting. She'd have gone insane years ago if she hadn't forced herself to ignore her sibling's conversations that didn't directly include her.

"Sounds like an interesting woman to meet if you don't mind sharing me for a bit before we leave and interesting music if you enjoy it. I should pay attention to more media if I'm going to be in it," Coraline replied with a nod, not missing a beat or a step, "But how about after this song finishes? Wind up our turn on the dance floor on a high note?"

And with that, the young metamorph did indeed kick it up a notch, quantum fed into her feet to push her performance to a new high and smile daring Norman to keep up if he could. She fought off the temptation to boost her apperance, too, a little voice warning against showing off too much more as is.

Physical Prodigy.

"Very well." With that, he stepped up the dance quite a bit, he couldn't quite match her shear physical dexterity, but neither could she match his perfection in the performing arts, and both of them added a dizzying display to the room before right at the song's end, they both simply vanished, to take a seat beside the lovely Mirror Queen. "And good evening to you, I would like to introduce my lady, Coraline, and Cora, this is Chang Zha-Yang, also known as White Rain, or the Mirror Queen by Teragen... perhaps we should retire to a quieter and more private location." With a nod of agreement from Chang and Cora, he lead both of the ladies from the main room to a much quieter room done in burgundy, with thick carpet and nice sofas, a glass table with a chessboard centerpiece, and a bar on on side, it was clearly the sort room for quiet discussion.

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