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Aberrant: Children of Quantum Fire - [Interlude] No Fate but What We Make (Fin)

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Date: May 3rd

Partisipants: Those with access to the Primus, more to potentially follow

Coraline spiraled out over the Pacific Ocean, an angel of light reveling in her flight and drinking in *everything* she saw, felt, heard, fighting to keep from filtering out her perceptions like she had before the valley, keep her awareness wide and follow the tick of creation through her own fog of cycling quantum energies. Everything looked different than before. No, everything was the same and she was just allowing herself to see and react to them differently. Feel diferently about them.

Uncle's blessing was both an relief and a burden, a drive to be, do, better. She was going to save him. With a little help from her siblings.

The young metamorph reluctantly coasted to a halt in a clear patch of sky and solidified, a wind rustling her hair and eufiber sundress as she pressed the nub of her ciphered comunicater 'on', a throat mike picking up her nearly subsonic whisper. 'Code: Coraline 42LS9. Call, Primus. Message:...'

She smiled, pausing to compose her first comunication with the family outside of the valley in four months her time, one month theirs, 'I'm out of the bubble and eager to find out what I've missed. Someone there to give me coordinates and a heading or a warp in? Coraline, out.'

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Butch had been at a control panel on the bridge of the Primus when Cora's message arrived. For a moment, he didn't believe it and had to check the code twice. It was definitely Cora, but she was supposed to be gone for three months training with Uncle Shen, Maia, and Justin. Butch logged in to the communicator program Alex had set up as part of Primus and leaned forward sure that the message was untraceable and would not be overheard by anyone but Cora.

This is Butch, Cora. Message received. Good to hear your voice, grasshopper. Coordinates and heading are...Butch gave her Primus' current location and heading, then paused. Meet in the lounge. I'm sure everyone who's around will be there to greet you. Butch, out.

With that, he made his way from the bridge to the lounge excited to see Cora and slightly concerned as to the reason why she had left training early.

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Darrik happened to be back on the Primus for once, and when he heard the message from Cora over the loudspeakers, he wondered what exactly was going on. Cora was training with Maia, Justin and Shen, or had been. But he doubted she could or would simply have left without permission from Uncle Shen. Meaning that there had to be an important reason behind it all. So he immediately went down to the lounge and sat down in a chair, a bit concerned as to what she had to say.

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Warren had been on Primus getting away from it all and interacting with the people there. He said when he was told of Cora's upcoming visit, "How concerned should we be?"

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It was at that point a figure of angelic light quite literally flew into the Primus' lounge, ignoring the hull and the ocean around the hull as though they didn't exist. The figure, vaguely female in form, hung there in the middle of the chamber, featureless head taking in the three novas sitting there. And then it became the very female figure of their sister, dressed in her usual eufiber sundress and sporting not-so-usual white pupils instead of her previous electric blue ones, her whole quantum aura, what they could sense of it, changed.

"Node, it's been too long since I've seen you," her chorus hummed warmly, a smile gracing her lips, "What have I missed? Are the kids okay? Any progress on saving the world from itself for novas and baselines?"

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Warren said uneasily, "Hey... Cora? You've changed. What's up with the eyes?"

Warren wondered, was this in fact Cora? In the life they lived there were other possibilities, 'almost Cora but not quite'.

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Butch looked sideways at his spaced-out surfer-dude-lookin' brother, sensing caution and suspicion in his tone. True, Cora's eyes had changed, but Butch knew instinctually that his favorite metamorph in the world had returned.

Rising from his seat, Butch made his way over to Cora and wrapped her in his muscular arms, squeezing gently.

"Welcome back, sis!" he said. "Missed you!"

He released her from his grip and held her at arms length.

"The kids are great. Eric and Zia are growing up too fast and learning a lot. As for progress, well, the world still needs saving but we're making moves. Meeting coming up with the Daedalus League and the Protectors. Plenty of other stuff to catch up on, too," he said, letting her go and pulling over a seat.

"But more importantly. How the heck are ya, sis? How about Maia, Justin, and Uncle Shen?"

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Coraline chuckled and grinned at Butch. At any other time, Warren's suspion would have annoyed her, but she was too busy being glad to see him to be upset with him.

"You forgot to mention the other three and their mothers. They *are* still with us, right?" she teased, making the question rhetorical by peeking out further along the E-M spectrim and spotting their winged guests, "I'm good. Taking that final first step on the road to Qi Meng knocked the wind out of me even after months of preparing for it and *did* change the eyes I inherited from my Mother along with who knows what else about my node, but... The training was good for me. Just don't ask me to do any research, okay?"

She extracted herself gracefully from the hug, "The other three are fine, too. I just have too many things to do out here to stay in there, people to help protect and debts to repay. Can't let Marina go on those shoots alone. Help take care of the kids. Be a force for good after 17 years of hiding."

The yougn metamorph lost most of her good cheer, chorus dropping into deadly serious composure, "So, meeting the Daedalus Leaque and the Protectors. Any more rescues from Madame Rousieu? Progress on sabatoging Proteous' attack on Congo before it happens? Alex's genius doing any more of the impossible? Because we're on a very definite clock to fix things now. I think Uncle believes he's going to die by the end of the year. Based on things he's said and things he's done and how rarely he's been wrong and four months to think about it all during the training."

E-M Vision triggered

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Darrik paused at Cora's words. She said SHEN WAS GOING TO DIE. "Are you that sure, Cora?" He asked cautiously at that bombshell. "Your description lacks... detail... and he's also the one to say the future is mutable in the first place." Unconsciously, his fingers crossed and tightened.

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"More sure than I want to be, Darrik, and Maia agrees with me. When we asked him why we had to train in so forced a method the first week we started, he said we needed to master Qi Meng by the end of the year and wouldn't say any more. Despite how... fundamentally unprepared I am to master this the right way and the literal centuries together we all potentially have as a family. I may be wrong. I pray I'm wrong and that it was just some trick to motivate us, but... I'm not willing to risk Uncle's life by disbelieving my intuition now and failing to do my best to be prepared for this."

She looked around, deadly serious, "And my best includes telling you so we can all be ready to save him if it's his turn to depend on us."

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Deeply shaken, Warren swallowed and tried to convince himself that Cora was lying, or from another timeline, or SOMETHING. Warren said, "But... he can't!"

Warren opened his mouth, and closed it again, swallowing whatever further protests or accusations he was going to make.

Warren took hold of himself and said uncertainly, "Is he... does he... want to go?"

{OOC: Lie Detector On}

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Butch didn't say anything. He wasn't quite sure what he should or more importantly could say. Speechless. Butch was speechless.

He was shaking his head lightly, arms crossed tight over his chest, as the others spoke. It just couldn't be. How would it happen? Would they be able to figure it out and prevent it from happening? Would their trying to prevent it from happening actually cause it to happen? There were just too many questions.

He waited to hear more from Cora before speaking. Hopefully that would give Butch time to compose himself.

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Cora suddenly looked very small, white-on-black eyes closing as she shook her head, "I don't know. He never said anything more and I always found a reason not to pry and ask. And the future is mutable, so even if that IS what he's seeing, we can change it. Change the world for the better so that no one will be aiming nova killer bullets at him. Go and terraform Mars and Venus in as close to one go as we can. Win the coming Congo War in a day and embarass Proteus beyond redemption. Find a cure for taint and share that cure with everyone. Something impressive and constructive so Aeon calls off it's hound. I don't know. I just do things. You guys come up with them."

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"It's not that simple."

Alex came in, her footsteps nearly silent in her soft slippers on the polished floor.

"Shen sees multiple realities...maybe not all possible, but certainly all likely. If he's going to die, that means that his death is the best of all the possibilities he could see for whatever events he's seeing. If he thought we could change things for the better, he'd tell us about it. The fact that he's not telling us means that he's trying to make sure the timeline conforms to his prescience."

She nods at Coraline. "Welcome back. How come you came back on your own? Are the others still training?"

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Warren frowned. This whole 'sacrificing yourself for the greater good' thing was utter crap. His mom had done that, but in reality he knew she'd just gotten tired of running. It was another way to give up.

Warren offered, "Maybe he just needs a vacation."

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"I have things I need to take care of before I feel ready to further master Qi Meng, Alex, but the others are still training, yes," Coraline answered with more than a hint of icy anger in her voice and posture at her genius sibling's glib and utterly unhelpful remark on the situation, "Whatever he meant, it didn't sound good anyway."

She forced the anger away, settling down on a couch to catch her breath, "So, to give us all time to think... What have I missed? We've had to do something to start solving the Motherhunter problem while I was gone."

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"We've started solving that long before you left," Alex answers. "And we haven't slowed since. Butch is planning a summit with some more possible allies, as I understand it. The defense of the Congo is being organized. I have birds and bees active in five strategic areas, and the satnet is going strong. I myself have plans to make arrangements for future establishment and distribution of carefully chosen technologies that should help buy us some more time."

"In short...things are proceeding well, though your absence has been missed."

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Butch's eyes narrowed at Warren's absurd vacation comment. He had to try very hard not to haul off and smack Warren upside the head sometimes...

Alex summed things up nicely regarding what they'd been doing for the last month, so Butch only felt the need to clarify and add a few things of his own.

"We're meeting with Cyrus Katrak and Thomas Sering in a few days. Katrak and the Daedalus League are interested in information sharing regarding offworld exploration and colonization scenarios, but he wants to talk to us face to face especially Warren and Alex.

"Sering and his survivalist crew are also very interested in the colonization angle. I'm hoping to get him to agree to potentially granting asylum to anyone we find who's on the run from the Motherhunters and can't run anymore. We really need to think about a more permanent solution to finding a place for people we rescue, and the Protectors seem like a decent option.

"I'm also waiting on Madame Rousseau, who promised some human intel support in our anti-Proteus efforts. She's compiling information on targets for further surveillance for Alex's doo-dads. On top of that, she's scrounging around for anything she can relating to the Nyx. Fingers crossed on that.

"And, yeah, I've been working through a shit-ton of potential Congo-related scenarios, too."

He shrugged. "So, that's how I've been working on saving the world."

For a moment, Butch wanted to jump back in to the Uncle Shen issue, but he held his tongue instead. Frankly, he was still quite unsure as to what to say.

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Warren inhaled deeply and said, somewhat shakily, "Sorry, that was dumb. It's just... it sounds like he's giving up, and he's been doing this for a lot longer than we have. Progress. Right... the moment the war breaks out I'm going to launch continuous attacks simultaneously against all targets. There's fights I just can't win, but anything that can be won will be. In subjective time I haven't been going back after mother hunters recently, but I have been making a list of promising targets and/or disappearances. I think that's going to resume retroactively. And I've been working with Alex looking for..."

Warren's voice drifted off as he lost focus. Could Alex be right? The best future was with Shen dead? Looking into the future... the whole concept wasn't reliable. Either you lost free will or you changed what you saw so it didn't happen. Still... the future was just a different direction in time.

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"That all sounds encouraging. I think," Coraline offered, never really sure about this time travel hunting of Warren's but certain he could handle it, "We'll have to talk to the Aberants about helping out with any rescue operations they carry out. I'm certainly going to have time to spare even with helping out Marina pay back our debt. Anyone interested in joining me?"

She looked around, curiously, not having spotted her eldest sister on her first sweep, before settling in on Darrik, "But how have you been? You're not the type to stand still even with having to get ready to greet my first Nieces and Nephews into the world."

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Darrik sighed in a dramatic fashion. "I'll admit much of my time has been spent interacting and working with the friends I'm finding in the Teragen, but let it be said I have not been doing nothing for us. After all," his face took on a lynx grin. "Money makes the world go round, and I am making a great deal of money and routing it through some private accounts. The question I do have to ask, if the family feels to answer it at some point, is if there are any companies you particularly want to buy significant interests in... the heaviest brand-name hitters are mostly out of my reach, even for the next few months, but I may be able to acquire some strategically place corporations with pliable boards."

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"I'm fine, thanks," Alex demurred. "I've got my own investments, and a decent cash flow. I could get more, do more, but I want to keep a low profile. Wall Street types tend to notice meteoric rises."

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Warren finished his examination of infinity without noticing anything relevant. Uncle Shen made it look easy. Without knowing what specifically to look for... if there was anything to look for... With a start Warren noticed the conversation had gone on without him and he replayed what everyone had said.

Warren said, "Money, right. I took a job with Anna. It's piecemeal work so I guess I'm blue collar." Warren nodded to Alex and Darrik and said, "Advice would be appreciated, I'm a little out of my depth. I didn't plan this beyond 'get rich' and at a couple of Billion a month that's done. Oh, and I'm registered as a maskless elite and I'm pretty sure Anna won't be supplying elites against the Congo."

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"Hopefully not. Plenty of independents with a node and the desire to hurt people for money with it though, so Aeon will find no shortage of them to use in the coming conflict," Coraline answered, accepting with an internal shrug that her siblings might not be as interested in keeping their skills sharp against live Motherhunters. Well, Warren excepted, but his plan was considerably more ambitious.

She smiled, "And moneywise, I plan to kick the modeling into high gear before the war breaks out, repay our debt and keep Proteus' eye firmly on me while the rest of you braintrust do the real work. Keep me in the loop whenever you find something that needs to be convertly destroyed though."

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Not disagreeing with Cora's comment about 'Independents', Warren continued to review what had been said and realized he'd missed something else.

He added, "Cora, I'd love to help with the Abbies. On a side note, your eyes? Qi Meng? How is that possible, I thought our... differences... were purely genetic?"

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Butch didn't care at all about why Cora's eyes changed colors. Frankly, he was far more interested in what Warren said about DeVries not supplying Elites to the conflict in the Congo. And what the hell was all that babble about Warren becoming a maskless Elite himself? What the hell was he up to? Butch would have to pull him aside and find out exactly what it was his warping brother was up to.

"Cora, you're always on the list for taking part in destruction, covert or otherwise," Butch chuckled. "And nothing's changed with regards to helping the Aberrants with rescue missions. I'm always in. How much longer are you on the hook to DeVries with the modeling by the way?"

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"Don't know, Warren. But given how throughly Qi Meng changed the way my node feels, I wouldn't be surprised to find that something being 'genetic' was no barrier at all to it being changed," Coraline commented softly with an affectionate smile before turning on Butch, the brother she had missed the most these last four months she had been through in the Valley, "A little less than four, maybe five depending on the exact terms Uncle used with Mrs. DeVries to get Maia and I out for the training. Might keep it up after that though. It's... not a bad way to get learn about baselines without having to shroud myself the way I really should in public these days."

She stood up, expression wondering, "Has anyone taken our winged guests out flying? Found an area free from prying eyes, warped them there for an hour and flown overwatch while they stretched themselves out the way novas who can defy gravity need to to be happy and sane?"

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Warren frowned and said, "Oh heck. No, I haven't. I've been..." Warren's voice trailed off embarrassedly.

'Busy' wasn't the right word, he could 'make time' enough for anything. The problem was he was attracted to women with wings and having relationship problems with Pip. He'd been avoiding their beautiful winged passengers. On the other hand, just because he was walking on egg shells with Pip shouldn't mean they were stuck inside a boat. He should be able too...

Warren said, "Cora, would you come with me and we'll ask them out?" The word was 'Chaperon'.

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"Warren," Alex said suddenly. "Here." She tossed him a little metal cannister.

"Tracers. If you're meeting other elites, and the situation allows, mark them with one of these. It'll let my satnet track their movements. I've been having my birds try to get them into elite gear lately, but it's been going slower than I like."

She smiled. "Having another 'bird' who regularly meets and competes with elites can't hurt."

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Darrik paused, as something he remembered from the less constructive full family meeting occurred to him. "I do remember Alex commenting that we inform King Einherjar of what Shen and she predicted. Has that actually happened?" He gave a humorless grin at the thought no one had actually done so and the Congo was the one not prepared.

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"Sure, Warren. Soon as we clear up here," Coraline answered, guessing his hesitation had something to do with Pip and not sounding happy that the issues with their most tempremental sister shadn't been ended well yet. They were supposed to be family after all, and families took care of one another.

Darrik's question would only sour her mood further if answered by some variation on a 'no'. That would just be plain incompetent.

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"Shaman has passed the information along," Butch said. "He was eager to warn his dad about it himself. Information coming from Einherjar has been...spotty since then, but Shaman mentioned a potential meeting of minds sometime soon. Just waiting on their end really. Until then, I'll be analyzing troop figures and tactics and whatnot."

Every day, Butch made himself face the potentials of a conflict in the Congo, but he worried he was driving himself a little nuts doing so. One of the biggest problems he was facing had to do with the fact that Uncle Shen could only tell them vague things about the coming war. Maybe it wasn't a problem...merely a frustration.

"I'm sure Alex is doing some analysis of her own, but, frankly, sis," he said looking at Alex, "you've been holed up in your lab a bunch lately and I'm always a bit wary of disturbing you when you're in the zone. Anything big you've got to report to us before Warren and Cora go flying?"

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"Not...yet," Alex hedged. "I've got something big, but I need to figure out the ramifications, and how to make it available to people but still secure. Once I have a plan for how to proceed, then I'll start bringing people in. And you guys can always call me or visit. It's no bother."

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Coraline chuckled, certain that this project was going to be one of the big ones Alex had talked about at that last meeting.

"You're welcome to come along, Butch," she offered, wiggling her fingers and letting them morph quickly through a half-dozen changes in as many seconds, "I *can* give you borrowed wings for a little bit, any style you want. You have the quantum muscle to make them work, too. Honestly, I'd like the practise and to spend the time with as many of my siblings as I can manage after four months away."

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Warren nodded to Butch and said, "Please keep me informed."

Warren tried to tell himself he wasn't looking forward to the war, but... he liked smashing down mother hunters and their ilk. He doubted it was healthy, but he liked it anyway. When the war came... when the war came he'd need to really watch himself.

To Alex he remarked with a smile, "Otherworld base, Earth-like planet."

He knew, and Alex knew, and they knew they knew and so forth, all the weaknesses in that plan; and that Warren liked the idea just because he liked the idea. It was a solution in search of a problem and he was quite happy to trot it out as a cure for pretty near anything.

To Cora he said, "It's good to have you back Cora. New eyes or no."

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"Count me in for flying," Butch said, smiling at Cora. "I'll borrow some wings from you. Let you practice your gifts and give me a chance to touch the sky."

If he wanted to, Butch could probably generate a good amount of bioheat and use it to fly, but directing the energy was difficult and would probably sap a good amount of juice from him. Maybe someday he'd develop that ability some more or alter himself to allow for flight, but that'd be something to consider another day. Besides, Cora got a kick out of giving gifts, so Butch was happy to oblige.

He nodded at Warren, "I'll keep you informed as long as you do the same. I'm curious as to what you're up to by becoming a maskless Elite. When did you go and become all hardcore? What's the angle?"

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Warren smiled with a grim glint in his eye and replied, "One stone, multiple birds, and ever since a few months from now. I'm not hiring out so I'll be a joke until the war. But soon they..."

Warren waved his hand at the world indicating Proteus, Utopia, the Directive, and mother hunters in general before continuing, "...will try to destroy our only public sanctuary. We won't let them. I don't care if it takes decades of subjective work. No unmasking. No rules. I'm not stopping until we win, and I don't think they can kill me. We're going to win, there's no other option."

Warren said, "We'll destroy whoever the other side is. So, if you were Proteus, who would you want that to be? Who would you place on the other side?"

Answering his own question Warren said grimly, "DeVries. Whoever wins, the 2nd generation loses. So I gave Anna a carrot, stick, and warning. Hopefully she didn't need it, but whatever. If I'm not her biggest earner then the girls are. She's not going to trade that for a train-wreck of a war."

Warren looked away from a grim future and was Warren-the-hippy again. He said almost apologetically, "We're going to make an example out of someone, but it shouldn't be her."

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Cora chuckled grimly behind one hand, amused as always by Warren's leaps in logic, "We'll just have to see if we're quite *that* important by the time the conflict erupts. In the meantime, you two meet me in the sub bay in ten minutes. I'm going to find our winged guests and tell them about the plan. Alex, if you could point out a good place for us to do this, I'd really apreciate it."

The young metamorph flitted off the floor and spiraled out of the room for where she had spotted the girls and could still hear their distinctive heartbeats, offering a final wave.

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Butch listened to Warren's...explanation. He shook his head slightly at his warping brother's often bizarre thinking.

"Warren, we'll chat some more about your, um, dealings with DeVries at another time. I've got questions for you, but they can wait," Butch said watching Cora fly off. "For now, let's go out and have some fun."

With that, Butch made his way to the sub bay to wait for Cora to bring their guests so that they could go enjoy some flight time.

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