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Aberrant: Children of Quantum Fire - [Interlude] To Move All Boulders[COMPLETE]

Adrian Moss

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May 16th, 2027

He walked down the halls of the Palace. He was in the business side of the complex, were things really got done in the Kingdom of the Congo. His summons hadn't been urgent, but it had been exacting.

The Kingdom has need of your services, My Prince. Report to my office as soon as it is convenient.


As soon as convenient really meant 'drop everything your doing because it really can't be all that important and come to my office NOW'. The young Prince had learned that in Governance 101. So, Shaman found himself, Scepter in hand, knocking on the door. In some way, he realized he should be more concerned, but he had been worrying less recently - about everything. Now, facing the third most important person in the Kingdom had a certain, unexplained, hollowness to it.

"Come in," came the crisp voice of command.

Permission granted, Shaman stepped into her office space. It wasn't overly cluttered. It wasn't too clean either. The Spartan furnishings held a weight of authority to them granted by the their owner. The Owner ...

"Thank you for being prompt, My Prince."

She even made the title not sound derisive. That was some feat, because most members of the government found him to be a peculiar appendage that suddenly appeared upon their Beloved Sovereign. Was he cancerous? They hoped not. Burying the Boy would be unfortunate. Shaman felt it would be really unfortunate for him too. No one had a use for him ... until now. Esperance didn't beat around the bush.

"Your Kingdom has need of your services. Our neighboring state of Uganda is having some unfortunate and unforeseen problems. These problems can be remedied by someone of your 'unique' talents."

"Our friend to the East has experienced very odd weather as of late. It rains in the North and South, soaking the savannah in mud and causing Lake Victoria to flood much of the lowlands in the region. In the West, there is a drought, causing the level of Lakes Albert and George to drop and endangering the coffee and banana harvests."

'Okay', Shaman thought. 'I will have to reference that. For starters, which eastern neighbor was Uganda? There are like half a dozen of them. Secondly, what constituted normal rainfall for the region? Lastly, why wasn't Morrigan handling this? She was the Big Gun weather-wise, outside the King, of course.'

Esperance's gaze penetrated him like a burning brand.

"You are probably wondering why you are being sent, since you are untried and this is a diplomatic mission of sorts. The answer is simple: you are the only one we can afford to send. You are not crucial to the Kingdom's defense. If you screw this up, we will always claim this was childish exuberance and you will be locked up in your room until such time as the adults have done all the heavy lifting."

There was only one answer to that.

"Thank you for your honesty. I could say something dramatic like 'I'm not going to let you down', but what I think isn't really relevant is it?"

"No, it's not. How soon can you leave?"

'That's a trick question, right?'

"Give me ten minutes to contact my bodyguard and I'll be ready to go."

'Was that the faintest glimmer of approval?'

'Dude, she saves her opinions for the King, not for me. More likely she is already planning what to put on my tombstone.'

'At least we didn't say something incredibly stupid like 'Do I really have to go?'

'Well, that's right up there with 'Hey, I can see down your blouse.' After all, they can only kill me once.'

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{Later that day, Northwest of Fort Portal, Uganda}

Shaman and Horizon stood looking down over the mountains and into the winding, verdant river valley beneath them. Things looked peaceful enough. The past fifteen years spent next to a peaceful giant had allowed the country to invest in some much needed infrastructure. Unfortunately, it had also seen a certain level of unpredictability in its weather patterns. After all, you couldn't transform the Ethiopian Highlands into an agricultural paradise without messing with the rest of East Africa's climate.

Project Utopia had helped out a great deal. Funny how that worked. First they fuck up your weather and then they lend you the technology to install flood controls and irrigation systems. The end result of all this Utopian aid was that the Ugandan government mostly played ball with the ones who had 'saved them'.

Or so had been the case until about five years ago. A firebrand young (40ish) young woman preaching a pro-nationalist, anti-globalization message surprised everyone and rose to the position of Prime Minister. Using the Congo as her model, she bent her will and the will of her people into creating as self-sustaining state. With the Congo sitting right across the border, no one gave serious consideration about doing anything to this new government. Sure, most foreign aid dried up, but Uganda was rich in natural resources. The previous government had invested wisely in building up the countries power grid, so industrialization wasn't a total nightmare. The people tightened their belts and Uganda was close to becoming a net exporter, instead of a net importer. Experts predicted that somewhere between three and five years down the road, the Prime Minister's vision would come to fruition.

Then this past fall, the weather had started to go 'wonky'. Rain levels in the western part of the country fell off. There were no alarm bells going off initially. The irrigation network fed off two massive lakes after all. Come winter, they said, things would bounce back. Winter came and rainfall plummeted. The government went so far as to bring in a elite Weather Controller. While they worked in the region, things improved. When that nova left, the drought returned harder than ever. They contracted them again. Same results. The problem then became one of how long could they keep paying this elite to nursemaid their country. Was there anything else they could do to make them stay?

The answer was: no. Some interested agricultural concern snatched up Mr. (actually Ms.) WC in a long term contract. Now the Ugandans had to tough it out. They prayed for rain, and they got it - just in the wrong place. In late March the rain stopped all together in the West, but opened up in the North and East. The intensity of showers increased until the lake levels rose and several of the largest cities were inundated. The Ugandans soldiered on. They reinforced their levy system, raised sandbag walls, and sent youth laborers out into the countryside to help their rural cousins protect their crops. The food basket of the country was at stake.

Utopia came by and began offering an 'intensive' investigation of the event, but the government rebuffed them. Food and financial aid was promised with only a few minor concessions. The government created price-control measures and rationing instead. The Project even got their northern neighbor South Sudan to weigh in, claiming that these freakish Ugandan rains were threatening the whole of the Nile Basin. When April passed without 'positive' action by Uganda, South Sudan brought the matter before the United Nations, seeking immediate intervention.

Enter the Kingdom of the Congo. King Einherjar had a long standing policy of non-intervention in his neighbor's affairs. If they didn't cause problems for his people, they could pretty much do as they pleased. While he looked down with some pleasure at the change in the Ugandan political structure, he did little except encourage limited, small-scale investments and dual economic ventures. He had no intention for Congo's economy to subsume Uganda's. It was that whole 'Good Neighbor' thing. When the United Nations looked like it would intervene, the situation changed. Someone, anyone, bullying a state that shared a border would not be allowed. The Congo pulled strings with several nations who held a negative balance with the Congo in trade, or banking.

The Ambassador of the Congo stressed repeatedly that the Ugandan dams had not broken, their crops were failing, but had not failed, and that the weather could return to normal just as soon as when they had taken a turn for the worst. More to the point, he made clear that any intervention, no matter how well intentioned, made against the small Republic of Uganda would be seen as an act of great hostility by his nation. The faint-hearted waivered and the motions were tabled for a time. The United Nations had to wait and watch. The Congo had sought out their own solution - and finally found one.

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{Early Morning of the 17th of May, 2027}

Prince Olimi of Toro squatted down in the open-door sheltering cottage and watched the rain come down. The nova responsible was leaning up against an interior pillar close to one of the opened windows, letting the breeze caress him. The young man's eyes were shut and he seemed to be rocking back and forth ever so slightly. His bodyguard lay next to him, more relaxed than asleep. Toro bordered Lake George to the West and had been hard hit by the drought. This was also not the first nova he had seen on the job either. This one seemed different. It didn't feel like this boy was doing a job. He was ... in was indescribable. It felt like the boy was singing to the weather and coaxing out the rain in the name of the People.

"It is amazing," Prince Olimi spoke. "For a hundred kilometers up and down the river basin, it rains. The rain travels nearly fifty kilometers inland as well. This is the most powerful display I've ever seen. How does he keep the storm going for so long? It's been seven hours."

Jacque opened an eye, lifted his head and regarded the African Royalty.

"It is two storms, not one, and yes, it is impressive. He is Son of the King of the Congo after all. The rains should be letting up in about an hour. He will give you around nine inches of rainfall over all."

"That will help a lot. How often can he do this for us?"

"He will do this until he succeeds, Prince. He'll do this 'til the job gets done."

It wasn't like this was costing anything that Prince Olimi was aware of. It appeared as if his fellow 'Prince' came with no strings attached. He did know that his government, the government of Uganda, had asked for the assistance. Their ambassador to the Kingdom of Congo had not offered much. His country's pride was strong. What the man had gotten rather abruptly was an offer of the King's own Son. Olimi wondered how his fellow Prince felt about that.

"So, how come you are a Prince?" came back the West African nova. "I thought Uganda was a Republic."

"It is. We are a Republic that incorporates six kingdoms within its borders. Thus I am both a citizen of the Republic and a Prince. How about you? What is your story?"

"I'm was from Cote de Ivory. Now I'm an elite working for the Kingdom. I guard the boy. There is not much else to me. Nothing I'm willing to share anyway."

Prince Olimi sat back on his haunches once more. This man - this nova - had been rudely abrupt. It was not his lot in life to hold power, so he found himself guarding those who did have it. That could leave a man bitter.

He regarded his situation once more. It would have been an over-simplification of the situation to see it as a White Man coming in to save the African from his problems. Sure, Einherjar and this boy, Shaman, were White, but they were novas first. Novas had become Africa's saviors and bane from the start of the millennia. White or black, it made no difference.

Outside, the tempo of the downpour lessened. Olimi turned and regarded the boy-nova.

"It will rain lightly for another hour," the boy declared, "then it shall cease. You'll have about an hour of night left for things to dry out a little."

"Thank you," the Prince responded.

Shaman looked at his fellow Prince for a long, awkward second. "You're welcome."

Turning to his bodyguard, Shaman continued.

"I need to sleep for about six or seven hours now, then we'll go to the next site."

Back to the Prince.

"Thank you for the house to operate out of. I don't think my bodyguard relished hanging out in the rain while I worked. Thank you for your food and your mapping out the land as I requested. This way I can have the valley taken care of in four days."

"Four days," Olimi sputtered. "How?"

Shaman shrugged and smiled,

"Six hundred kilometers - fourteen hours per storm front = three and a half days. I'm allowing for certain things to go wrong."

"Like what?"

"Like someone trying to stop me."

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{May 20th 2017 - two days before the second meeting}

Normally you don't put a too much of a dent in a drought with only one night's rain, but this had been an extraordinary effort on Shaman's part. The rain had been heavy, but gradually so. By the end of one night, he had given the valley twelve percent of it's annual rainfall. The only down side was that the rainfall was still below the norm. June was part of the standard 'Dry Season as well.

Better for the land was the fact that Shaman had broken some sort of cycle that had been robbing the region of life-giving precipitation. Shaman wasn't positive about it, but he was more sure in his gut that something was wrong here and he was righting the natural order. The rest of May would be wet without any more intervention on his part - and no intervention by anyone else. The east of the country would be next on his agenda. This time he would be fighting the rains.

"Jacque, time we headed to Impala," Shaman told his bodyguard.

"Sure thing, Boss. Are you sure you don't want to rest up a bit more?"

"I need to get my schedule cleared."


"Yep, but you know I can't talk about it."

"I'm not asking. I get the feeling whatever you are doing is way above my pay grade."

"Well, thank you for that."

Horizon sniffed nonchalantly and opened up a Warp for them to go through.

"After you, mes ami, " the African said with a bow and a wave of his hand.

Shaman bowed in return. Walking through the portal, he sidestepped a started goat. They were in a field with the capital, Kampala, clearly in the distance. Jacque followed.

"Ugly clouds, " the bodyguard commented.

"Ugly in more than one way, Horizon. This doesn't feel right either."

"Someone here?"

"No. It's more like I'm looking at someone's big footprint in the sky. I have no idea how long they've been away - if they are away - but they've been doing it long enough to alter the local climate. I wasn't sure that was possible."

'When the rocks grow tall, the river rises. The greatest storm smashes all obstacles.'

With that cryptic words of encouragement, Shaman raised up his hands to the heavens and felt the quantum flow. Winds whipped up momentarily and settled. Shaman sat down in the field, with the goats, looking out over to the capital in one direction and into Murchison Bay in the other. Horizon remained standing, looking around. Two boys noticed the men in their field but didn't seem to mind. Their job was most likely to watch the goats. It was a duty they pursued with little real ambition.

Slow the clouds began to part, starting over the Bay and moving outward. Soon most of Lake Victoria would be clear to the sky. From what Shaman had told him, if you could drive the rain off the Lake, you could push the weather back to where it belonged. The Lake was really so big it effected regional, even national, climate. The cloud cover cleared over the capital as he watched.

For no particular reason, Horizon pointed out,

"It's working. Where next?"

He knew the likely answer, but in this business it never hurt to ask.

Shaman stood up and brushed the grass of his pants.

"Same location. East by Northeast - 75 kilometers or so."

"No problem."

'Time to repeat the process,' Jacque thought. 'I never realized that altering the climate of an entire nation could be so ... boring.'

The both stepped through the portal and started the process all over again. It was only in his peripheral thoughts that whomever did this was most likely getting more and more pissed with his charge - someone with as much, of not more, power.

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{May 21st 2027 - one day before the second meeting.}

Horizon looked around him. The dust storm was nearly blinding the winds were whipping so hard and fast. There was the crash of thunder off in the distance, but no sign of rain. The elite looked over to his charge. Shaman was leaning into the winds, hands lowered with his palms facing forward. He had barely moved since this battle with the weather had started an hour ago. Horizon clawed his way to the boy.

"Shaman, how's it going? For the love of the Creator, tell me you are winning!"

It was only half a joke. If someone could floor Shaman with their mastery of the weather, all of northern Uganda was in trouble. Shaman remained silent. He was clearly concentrating on something, but there was no sign of strain on his face. His only concession to the weather seemed to be that his eyes were closed.

Horizon took several deep breaths. He looked around and realized he could now make out the tree standing twenty meters away. He couldn't have done that two minutes ago. Things were getting better.

Then, suddenly, it was over. The winds died down to a gentle breeze, the oppressive, rain-heavy clouds dissipated, and the temperature began to rise. Horizon went up to Shaman and slapped him on the back.

"You won then," he congratulated his charge.

"No", said the surprisingly weary boy, "I outlasted him or her. Their node wore out before mine did is all. I didn't win anything."

The elite looked at the boy. He was worried now. Whomever had fought with Shaman was one tough son of a bitch, weather-wise. Without a doubt, he had drawn down on Shaman and failed to best the King's Son, but this bad-ass was still out there.

"How come this fellow came after you and not the weather elite the government hired?" Horizon queried.

"I don't think that elite stayed in one place long enough for this nova to catch up to them. Me, I moved in a steady, continuous arch. I made myself easy to find."

Horizon gave Shaman a serious look.

"You did this on purpose? You picked a fight with this guy and forgot to tell me? Man, what is wrong with you?"

"Well, I thought my obvious actions were ... well ... obvious. As for why; the Congo sent me here to solve Uganda's weather problem. I can't do that until I've dealt with whomever's been screwing them over."

"He, or she, leaves, I drive them out, or ... I bury them. Either option solves the problem."

Jacque, the elite known as Horizon, let his stare leave the boy's face and trail off over the savannah. The Kid was nice. Now he was talking about killing a nova. They always grew up fast in Africa, didn't they.

"What's the plan now?"

"We get help. There is no way I can track this person down, but I do think I know of someone, or some ones, who might be able to do what I can't."

"How do we get this help?"

"Port us someplace - any place - it needs to be random. I make a call and tell them where they can meet is the airport in Entebbe. Then we go to Entebbe and wait for them to arrive."

Horizon opened up a warp portal and they stepped through a pleasant Mediterranean hillside. Shaman pulled out his phone and made a quick call. That done, they stepped through another portal to Entebbe, about a mile away from the landing field. Horizon was mental going over the bare bones of this plan. Finally, he decided to ask,

"Okay. What now? How do we/they find this nova?"

Shaman turned to Horizon and smiled.

"In about five hours they are going to go back to their tricks in the North, trying to lure me out. We oblige them and they come gunning for us."

"Why do we need this other nova then?"

"Oh. That's because I'm not sure we can win, and even if we do, we have to stop them from getting away. We can't guarantee that. Our ally can."

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Coraline was between outfits at a modeling shoot in London when she saw that she had a message on her comunicator. She paused, considering, and after a quick check that everything was as it should be and no prying eyes and ears and quantum shadows were paying attention to her changing booth, she slipped the device in place and played the message.

Coraline frowned at the content and whispered back a message in her distinct chorus of tones, "Message received. Will arrive in just over two hours. Stay comfortable waiting for me." She was all smiles again by the time she emerged in the next outfit into the flashing vortex of cameras and called instructions, professional and uncomplaining and understanding under the pressure. The young metamorph even managed to get a real smile or three into the mix, losing herself in the work and the desire to do the work well. A small part of her awareness flitted out and around the studio at every 'ping' of new attention or significant change she picked up, alert for agressive interest beyond the ordinary she invoked in baselines when she was intentionally showing off.

Two hours and dozens of outfits later, nothing untoward had happened and things were wrapping to a close. She offered her sincere thanks to the photographers, crew, and shoot organizer, smiling at their sometimes overwhelmed return thanks before slipping out a side door and into the sky. Coraline kept her airspeed low until she was high over the Channel and out the view of all passive viewers she could detect.

And then she put on the speed, a mote of light screaming silently towards Entebbe, Uganda on wings of quantum. In no time at all she was dropping towards the rendevous point, converting from energy into flesh as she spotted the Prince and his bodyguard, slowing down into visible speeds. There was a smile in her white-on-black eyes, the pleasure of seeing a pleasant ally even amid so serious an endeavor as it seemed they were about to take part in. "I got your message, Shaman," she called as she touched down to earth a few feet away from her fellow 2nd Gen, brushing back her slowly-darkening blonde hair to tap the comunicator at her ear, "But tell me more so I have something to feed Alex."

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'Wow. Still Wow.'

"I've been sent to help out Uganda with a problem. Seems the weather has gone wonky. I figured it was someone screwing around here and there to make life difficult, but I've started picking up a greater pattern. Someone, or something, is making Uganda less and less habitable for humans. Nothing so obvious as a cyclone, but a stead erosion of the local weather patterns. Too much drought were there should be rain, and so much rain in other places the land is being turned into mud flats and swamp lands. The thing is, the change has been so gradual, I don't think anyone else has noticed, or even come close to putting the pieces together."

"Anyway, I came into the country just a few days ago and began altering the weather back to were it should be. Everything went according to plan until this morning. As I was putting more and more energy into the weather pattern, someone struck back at my work. We wrestled it out. I outlasted whomever this is, but I can't say I actually beat them. Right now I think they are building back up their strength for round two."

"What I've been able to figure out is that they do what I do. They've just been at it longer, so they have an edge. I know I can break down the damage they've done, given a few months, if they don't interfere. They've probably figured this out as well. I think they are going to set a trap for us - me and Horizon. Since my goal here is to solve the problem, we're walking into that trap. That's were you come in. Don't let us die."

"I'm not the most combative person in the world. I've hardly ever struck out in anger, so I really don't know what I'm doing. Part of what I need you for is to make sure this person doesn't escape once they are beaten."

"The other thing I need you for is to figure out why they did it in the first place. It is like screwing this country over has become their life's work. I ... we need to figure out why. Does this have to do with the Congo, or is it entirely something missing that I've overlooked? Will you help?"

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Shaman had his answer before he finished speaking, the model and aspiring resistence leader, nodding affirmatively to his request, one hand on her chin as she considered the problem in depth. "I'll certainly do everything I can on the first part, riding an angry storm created by two weather-manipulating novas. Can't be more difficult than Jupiter... The second... I'll call my siblings and have them be ready to pick up our opponent if we need some help getting our opponent to talk when we've beaten them," her chorus intoned thoughtly.

There was no doubt in her mind and bearing that they could win, that they would win, a serene confidence on her lips made only more infectious by her inhuman beauty as the sunlight caught her from behind. It would be good to have a victory under their belts before the next meeting, have her plan for spot raids on targets of oppurtunity a tested one. Along with the other ploys she had tested in the last week, they could have options in this struggle of theirs, her at the helm or not.

"So, where do you and your bodyguard propose we spring this trap?" she concluded, slipping into easy French for the Elite's comfort, "I'm willing to bow to any expertise you have to offer, Horizon."

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Horizon could only nod for a moment before the question took hold.

"Oh, the kid needs about three more hours to get re-charged and then we are warping twenty kilometers North-west of Moroto. That's near the Ugandan- Kenyan border. That seemed to be the center of the resistance last time out. If we are going to jump on this thing, we might as well jump in with both feet. Beyond that, it takes Shaman about about a minute to break-up a storm a storm over a fifty kilometer front. That gives our enemy two minutes or so to spot the disturbance and counter it. Then its a matter of him streaking toward us - maybe an hour if he moves like Shaman, faster if he has an alternative mode of transit."

Shaman looks to Horizon,

"That's pretty much it. The only other part is that you and Horizon need to keep a low profile. Seeing three novas might be off-setting and let him slip away. Essentially I'm the bait."

Horizon looks to his charge and slowly shakes his head.

"Let's not forget the important the important part."

Shaman nodded sagely,

"Of course, don't get killed."

Horizon now smiled to his charge,

"No. Don't make me lose my job!"

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Coraline liked the plan and her role in it. And it showed in her nod and apreciative expression. She was good at low profile. She be surprised if there was anyone much better at it. And Shaman's role was brave, too. She liked brave when she saw it.

"If this Nova moves any slower than teleport speed, they'll never get in range to hit you before I spot them and intercept. But just in case they can, I'll gift you a few things that'll allow you to absorb a blow or two while I get there and Horizon get's you out of there. If we're dealing with anything as bad as what it could be from your description... I'll want you at range while I take the punches it dishes outs. You two have access to coms, right? I have mine, but I'd rather not involve involve the others any more than we have to at this point."

Part of that emotion was a desire to prove herself. The larger part was a need to tread carefully this close to Congo and potential Proteus involvement so close to the war that might kick off her Uncle's death.

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Horizon nods in response to the inquiry about comm links and gives Cora their frequency. Shaman, on the other hand seems very pleased that Coraline likes his plan. It was simple, but...

"I appreciate the help on the defense. Horizon keeps telling me I'm too 'squishy'. I can hold my own by channeling lightning though. I'm pretty confident they won't get past you, but I'm not going to be foolish," Shaman says, beaming at her.

Horizon looks aside and mutters,

"Not like what you are doing right now."

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Horizon got a brief measuring eyebrow for that comment, the young metamorph tweaking with the frequency of her comunicator to bring it in line with theirs. She wasn't unaware of Shaman's affection for her, she'd have to be blind, deaf, and numb to be that, semi expected it actually with the way she refused to hide who she was. And she still hadn't confronted Norman yet since leaving the valley, one duty, one excuse, after the other conspiring to consume her time. That needed sorting.

But live in the present. The future would take care of itself if you took care of the now second by second.

"We can only hope. And the fundamentally simplest plans are best, for when nature decides to take it's course and turn them upside down in our faces despite our best hopes. So. How have you been this past week? I missed you when I visited the Palace recently."

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Shaman thinks about it a second.

'How could I have missed her?'

"Well ... umm ...occasionally they let me roam around the land around the capital. This is my first official mission for my Father. Even then, it's not totally official. According to the public record I have spontaneously decided to travel to Uganda and have a bit of a vacation. That way, if something goes horribly wrong, they don't look bad, and the Ugandan government doesn't look stupid for inviting me."

"That doesn't really matter though. I know I can do this. I'm ready, and that's what really matters."

'That, and you're here.'

"Everyone has to step out of the nest at some point. It is better I'm in a situation were I can alter the outcome. If I succeed it's because I'm ready. If I fail, it's my own damn fault. It is kind of liberating to have some control over my own destiny again. I haven't felt this way since you found me with those Orca."

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"Sorry about stealing you from cold, wet, hunted poverty into the life of a Prince of the Congo," Coraline commented with a wry chuckle that fractured good-naturedly into an understanding smile, "But I can understand your happiness about doing something useful. I'm certainly happier now that I've left the nest."

She got a distant look in her eyes, looking somewhere far past Shaman as a lump of flesh spun out between her palms and started growing into something alive, or at least, something that seemed to be alive. By the time she was done ten seconds later, a distorted copy of a Fawn-breasted Waxbill hopped onto her arm, a little overlarge for it's kind and sporting Coraline's distinctive white-on-black eyes. It made a strange series of motions, testing first one wing and then the other, one leg and then the other, fluffing it's feathers, and a dozen other biological diagnostics that had the young metamorph nodding in satisfaction before she offered it to Shaman.

"I call it a familar. If our opponent can jam our coms and gets the drop on you, I'll know something's wrong if it dies and come flying as fast as I can. That's a promise, Shaman."

Homunculous for fun and profit

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"That's something for me to look into, Cora. Maybe when it comes, it will be something I pick up. I was hoping more for total shapeshifting, but being split up yourself in any manner is very clever power to exploit. I wonder if you learn one, you can learn the other?"

Shaman looks to Cora for answers.

"I hope you learn to fly faster than a dirt bike, My Prince. With all you companions that port around to stars and the outer planets, you figure some of it might have worn off on you by now," Horizon said in a teacher's voice. "A little bit in the defense department wouldn't cramp your style either. Come on, Man. I hear you your sister bounces rail gun slugs without flinching. Step up."

Horizon meant well, but Shaman had this peculiar way of looking at the world. Creating Warps and buffing up his protection wasn't a priority.

Ignoring Horizon for the moment and reached out to Caro's bird. His quantum flowed out and ... nothing happens.

"Oh well, the bird is still a part of you. One day I wonder if we can use powers like that to create new life - even if it has a limited life span."

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Coraline gave the younger Nova an amused look even as she directed the construct to flutter over to his shoulder, pulses of quantum strumming along the invisible cord arcing between one of her fingers and the 'bird'. "It's all flesh manipulation. I'd imagine it's a natural pairing if your Node is inclined to grant you such gifts in response to your needs and desires. There's no telling what you will or will not get," she mused aloud, the wistful ghost of a smile on her lips as she recalled some of the more... unexpected abilities she had been blessed with, not all of them something she'd be eager to test again.

"You should talk to Butch at our next meeting about longterm manipulation of life. More his realm than mine. My familars will last until they die or I dismantle them, but they're too... limited to live on their own direction. Strictly puppets for me to use when I can't or won't act myself. A wise Nova knows his or her limits. Or so I've been taught."

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"I always seem to see things in river symbolism. I'm not sure what that means for me and the future of my power. It's not something that is totally encompassing. I see things in terms of static existence and change. The thing is, I don't believe anything is static. We are always in a state of flux, with a beginning, a present, and an end. I'm not sure what that means for me in a moralistic point of view. I have a hard time seeing things solely in the context of right and wrong. That's why I ask people, so I can gauge my own reactions to situations."

Shaman looks at her, trying to imagine what she must think of him.

"What does that make me? Am I going to know what to do with my power when it comes?"

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Coraline gracefully flowed into Shaman's personal space, a confident, teasing smirk on her lips, as she tapped him on the chin once, voice a chorus of good faith. "You'll do your best for yourself and others when the the time comes, whatever your power level, I've never doubted for a minute once I got to know you," she intoned, "And do you know why? Because I don't trust untrustworthy people. And no matter how changeable things are, how much the motion and the flow of the world pushes and pulls us along..."

The young metamorph laughed, shedding tension and seriousness at the amused consideration he was worried about her thinking less of him for using such an analogy, almost dancing back out of his personal space.

"...You are a trustworthy person, at your unchanging core, the 'pebble' of you being pushed down the river of time that endures against everything. I have the faith of what I can see and hear and touch that you are, and that's always been good enough for me. Things'll work out. We'll make them so."

And I trust you to help make them so. Her body language finished silently, a full body smile outlined in quantum-charged good looks.

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' ... until the end of time, for you.'

'All things wear down and change. It is the essence of existence.'

'No! Not this. Not this now. I won't allow it!'

'And that is what separates you from a mundane current - experience.'

'What? You are agreeing with me?'


'I guess I won't be totally alone then.'

"We'll make things so."

'Until the End of Time.'

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White-on-black eyes narrowed approvingly. Better. Coraline wasn't a philosopher by any stretch of the imagination, partially because she wasn't good at it, partially because it got in the way of doing what needed to be done.

"All right then. If we're to save Uganda then and go about this with as much intelligence as we can muster, I'm going to need the answer to two questions. One, where did you last fight your opponent? Two, what is the range of your weather powers so I know how big a circle I need to search for clues in the next hour or so?"

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"Hmmm ... I didn't really fight him as much as I overcame his efforts to keep the weather in its current, lousy shape. I simply wore him down."

"As for range, I think I can range out close to twenty-five kilometers, but I normally double up on my range so that I cover around 75 kilometers. I like the overlap and its effects compliment one another. Once I ran into trouble with this person, I dropped my secondary area and focused solely on them. I've got nothing to compare how good they, or I, am, except by comparing myself to Einherjar. So I may be real good. I may suck. I just don't know."

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A smile, soft and heartfelt and trusting of his expertise. "So they were probably within about 50 kilometers of you for a few hours. Searchable enough to make it worth our time to try before we confront them directly in a few hours. If we're wrong, then all we've lost is a little quantum. Now, where was this again?"

Coraline lifted off the ground in a hum of quantum, arms crossed over her chest, ready to get to work.

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"Why don't we have Horizon warp us to the spot? Not that you couldn't get there just as fast, but I wouldn't know what landmarks. It's up Route 3, but I'm not sure were you turn off east to the savannah."

Horizon looked to Cora questioningly.

"It's no problem. I've had plenty of time to recharge, and as the ki ... Prince said, I know were we are going, but not how to get there. The distance is so short, it won't be that strenuous either. From there, I bop you to the horizon, so to speak, and we see what happens."

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"Very well. If you feel your reserves are up to the task of warping your client and his over-enthusiastic ally around, it would be rude of me to refuse out of desire to get some more miles under my belt before my first big fight without my family at my side..," Coraline confessed with a chuckle and a nod of apoligy to the Elite, "Take us there please."

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Horizon smiles. A tear in reality opens up and expands. The horizon seems to swirl toward it, but Coraline can tell it is an optical illusion.

Shaman steps forward,

"Let me go first."

It was a strange action, since Cora was clearly the most powerful, and Horizon's job was to protect him, but he wanted to make this chivalrous gesture. Horizon looked peeved by this, biting down a comment. It was certainly something about young boys thinking with the wrong head. Instead of berating his charge, Horizon stepped through.

On the other side, the ground looked spongy. Water seeped up into Shaman's toes. Horizon had chosen to wear shoes. Coraline could see the skyline for several kilometers in every direction. Her and there, trees were clumped together, filled with a greenery that somehow seemed out of place. She could also make out the swells and dips in the ground that gave away the location of various 'dry' stream beds that criss-crossed the landscape. Getting close to Shaman wouldn't be too terribly difficult to Shaman, given an understanding of the lay of the land. Getting close enough to do anything to him was another matter. There was no real cover, save the thigh-length grass, anywhere in a hundred meters in any direction.

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The young metamorph flitted through the warp after the two other Novas, almost more at home in the air than on the ground, taking in everything around them through narrowed eyes that scanned up and down the electromagnetic spectrum. There was a long 30 seconds of thought and observation before Coraline concluded there was no one within easy range to strike at the trio, no eyes on them aside from a curious animal or twelve.

"A good place to stand to protect against someone trying to sneak up you like a baseline," she allowed with a grin, the familar perched in Shaman's shoulder mirroring her contentment, "Is this where we're going to try to draw our opponent out again, or do you have something else in mind?"

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Shaman nodded. He let his consciousness soar. He felt the clouds hanging overhead. With a tweaking of his will, the set forth the forces that would clear them from the sky.

"It's done,"Shaman said evenly. "I know it is not dramatic, but it takes a while to get the ball rolling. I'm dispersing the clouds. He'll either try to bring them back, or come gunning for us. I think the latter."

He looks to Coraline,

"I guess this is the part were you take off and keep an eye out for something coming to kill me. Be careful ... please. I don't know what's out there."

Horizon grinned.

"Boy, you best be thinking about what's out there not killing us. If she needs our help ... well, I'll move to the Sound of the Guns."

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Coraline chuckled and reached out of touch his shoulder, quantum flowing into the young man through her gloved hand and reshaping his flesh for the fight to come, "You be careful yourself. Don't want you to Apothesize doing something stupid to impress me when I'm already impressed, okay?"

[envoy] 9:35 am: Rolling for Bodyshift to help Shaman, last five mega.

envoy *rolls* 13d10: 3+4+2+3+5+3+9+5+5+8+2+3+4: 56

[envoy] 9:36 am: that was horrible. I count... two successes.

[envoy] 9:36 am: um, shaman gains Reliancy.

Not her best work by far, but it would have to do. She turned her energies on herself flesh bubbling and flowing as two additonal pairs of limbs sprouted from her torso and one natural limb hardened with a casing of chiton under the eufiber that covered her in a bodyglove of material that mirrored the sky above. She gave a final nod to her ally, a shiva of creation and destruction, before blurring out of sight and upwards into the sky.

[envoy] 9:42 am: okay, now ot boost cora herself. last five mega.

envoy *rolls* 13d10: 7+2+3+5+8+10+9+8+3+9+8+5+4: 81

[envoy] 9:45 am: figures. nine successes on cora so that means... extra arms, silent running (flight), hardened limb 2x, Hardbody and durability

Add in activations for Hyperflight, E-M vision and Enhanced movement, and all that knocks Cora's quantum reserves down to about 56 points, ten temp willpower, and full health

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It had all been so nice. The noise had been lessening, then someoneone decided they too wished to enforce their whim over the sky.

"No..." The voice was a hushed whisper on the wind, drifting by Cora and Shaman, as In the North, massive thunderheads began to form, roiling upon each other higher and higher. Powerful gale force winds blew from them and in the distance the horizon was blocked by the torrential rains of an unnatural storm. Lightning flashed, and thunder crashed, The only noise the one responsible truly found comforting. Against the actinc flashes of lightning, Beneathe the storms They could just make out the massive tornadoes ravaging the countryside.

This storm would bring untold death and destruction, and it showed a semblance of true intelligence.

On the wind they both heard "Silence... all will be.... Silence.."

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'Okay, stopping that is going to take a bit of work.'

'Ya think?'

'Double up. Got to stop those tornadoes first.'

'If you can.'

'Don't really have a choice.'

Shaman reached out with his mind. Raising his arms heavenward would have been overly dramatic. All that really mattered was the Will. From the Will flowed the Quantum. From the Quantum came the channel that guided the channel of River of Life.

Weather Combat
[Adrian Moss] 6:16 pm: Tornado

[Adrian Moss] 6:17 pm: Last three mega

Adrian Moss *rolls* 13d10: 5+8+10+4+7+2+8+10+10+9+8+8+10: 99

14 successes! To dispel the tornados

down to 97 quantum

[Adrian Moss] 6:18 pm: Storm, last three mega

Adrian Moss *rolls* 13d10: 10+7+8+6+6+2+8+1+8+9+7+4+1: 77

8 successes! to cancel out the storm

down to 94 quantum

The power flowed, but would it be enough?

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To everyone's suprise, two of the tornadoes dissipated, though the fury of the storm didn't abate at all. The remaining tornadoes all lessened a degree in power, but still they were more than capable of doing amazing damage.

"do..Not...Interfere." The wind spoke again, anger and annoyance easily picked up from the tone.

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'Keep it up. I'm going after them. Coraline out,' came the young metamorph's voice over the com, serious and focused as she dove into the artificial storm, undaunted by the power on display, hair whipping in the wind, dodging lighting reflexsively. Her eyes and ears and quantum awareness were peeled for signs of the source of this storm, the malevolent nova behind it.

envoy] 4:25 pm: okay, sensorary rolls for Coraline's madcap flight through the storm. first up, sight, last 7 mega.

envoy *rolls* 20d10: 8+2+6+6+7+3+10+3+1+3+3+5+3+9+10+1+10+4+8+4: 106

[envoy] 4:27 pm: so 13 plus three from e-m vision and two auto successes for having m-perception 7 makes 18.

[envoy] 4:27 pm: hearing check, benefiting from hyperenhanced heariing, last seven mega

envoy *rolls* 20d10: 2+7+10+10+7+4+10+2+3+7+10+7+3+9+6+8+8+1+10+1: 125

[envoy] 4:29 pm: and... a net 22 to hear 'em out.

[envoy] 4:29 pm: quantum at 55, ten willpower, full health.

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The culprit was easy to find, a heartbeat that was steady, but a tenth of a regular humans. Following the sound, She saw him, standing beneath the storms, rain falling upon him, his alabaster skin and brilliant red eyes marking him as an albino. He was looking at where Shaman stood, and above Lightning was arcing through the clouds. Clearly he'd found the interloper, and was about to rectify things.

roll for init

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Coraline frowned and changed course, diving for the pale nova, cloaked in silence and blurring at full speed, thinking past the screams of terror from the victims caught inside the storm. This stopped here and now, one way or the other.

[envoy] 11:52 pm: hello, hello

[Varro] 11:52 pm: wb voy

[envoy] 11:53 pm: yo. just in for some quick dice rolling.

envoy *rolls* 1d10: 10+35: 45

[envoy] 11:54 pm: whew, max roll!

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"I know you probably can't hear me, but I can not stand aside. What you are doing is wrong. It snaps the course of Nature away from its True Path. You are driven by hate, and that is something one of your power can no longer afford. Turn back."

'Survive this. That is all She asks of you.'

'We can help.'

'No. Be smart. This is not our time.'

'We must defend. He will attack us and we must be ready.'

'Hah! Good luck with that.'

'I can't leave Her.'

'I know. I just never expected to die for Her so soon.'

[Adrian Moss] 11:09 am: Initiative.

Adrian Moss *rolls* 1d10: 10+12: 22

Ready Action
Shaman is preparing to Power Block any incoming attack with Lightning Bolt. Not sure how well that will work, but his options are kind of limited. :D
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The storm was his answer, lightning raced across the clouds, building to a singl e point like some great cannon preparing to fire, and in an instant there was a blue-white flash and a bolt of lighting arced across the sky moving at impossible speeds, Shaman had only an instant to react to this, or be electrocuted by the scourge of the storms.

Your powerblock atttempt must get 12 successes to halt this blast. If it does not, Shaman will be hit for 26 Lethal damage after the roll and factoring in his improved Lethal soak.

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Your powerblock atttempt must get 12 successes to halt this blast!!!
Excuse me while I fall over laughing. Shaman doesn't have twelve dice to block with. This is going to suck.

He catches sight of it at the last second, the lightning swarms around him and lashes out at the blast.

Going to Die now.
[Adrian Moss] 9:26 am: Going to Die now!
[Adrian Moss] 9:26 am: I auto-success for willpower.
Adrian Moss *rolls* 10d10: 6+4+8+6+7+1+6+7+6+8: 59
Even with the willpower, that's only 5 successes. Average, but not close enough. Ouch.

The bolt smashed though Shaman's counter-bolt like a sledgehammer hitting a thin sheen of ice. The boy lit up like a Christmas Tree and fell to the ground screaming. It was pretty clear he probably couldn't take something like this again, even though he was attempting to rise. He still had the role of decoy to play.

The Damage
46 HL - 26 damage = 20 HL remaining.

'We aren't good enough!'
'We need to stay calm.'
'What do we do?'
'We mend, idiot!'
'The object isn't to beat this guy. It is to survive!!'
'If Cora can't save us?'
'Then do we really want to live?'

Next round (if he has one)
Health Manipulation - roll Stamina+Health Manip. Each success allows Shaman to heal one Bashing/Lethal HL. Costs 1q per HL healed.
Also, Regenerating 1 HL
This will take him to 93q - HL's healed by HM.
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Less than a heartbeat behind the attack, cutting the air in front of her like a silent thunderbolt herself, Coraline's lips pressed together bloodlessly and anger bloomed in her eyes. Their opponent had escalated to lethal force first, struck Shaman down with a blow he'd be hardpressed to endure again. So she'd return the favor, at least as close as she could without tapping that matter rending power she could at several times the speed of light.

Acceleration downward at full speed to within 30 meters of her opponent. Jolting to a sudden halt with all four arms extended as she transfered all of her downward momentum into the albino weather controller. Blurring into motion again before even allowing herself to see the result of her strike, arcing around for a second pass as she left a sonic boom in her wake.

So, three part action. Step one, all out flight towards the Trog. Step two, use Momentum Transfer to accelerate the Trog into the ground at 189,000 kph. Step three, accelerate into full speed again and not use Silent Running (Flight) to make sure she get's the Trog's attention if it's not dead yet.

51 quantum left, 10 willpower, full health

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The impact was something spectacular, horriffic, and terrifying. The ground out to two hundred meters from the initial impact point was compacted into a superdense crystal, and the young trog's body was reduced to nothing more the particulate mattter. It would find it's way into the upper atmosphere becoming one with the sky he so loved.

The blood of yet another second generation nova know stained Cora's soul, still she had saved Shaman's life, and with any luck, he still was capable of halting the storm that was now bereft of power sustaining it.

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'What the?!?!?!?'

'That's what we do. Do you see the depth and breadth of the River now? You are not a raindrop to be callously set aside, nor foolish enough to bend a single leaf. You are the torrent that uproots trees and reshapes the land. Do you understand now?'


'Yeah, what do you say after seeing that.'

'We heal. We hope she will come to us to let us know just what happened.'

'Then we break these storms.'

[Adrian Moss] 9:01 am: Healing.

[Adrian Moss] 9:01 am: Last 5 megas

Adrian Moss *rolls* 15d10: 3+6+1+5+8+6+4+8+4+9+10+5+2+7+6: 84

[Adrian Moss] 9:02 am: 8 successes

+8 HL's (down 17) 85q Left (regeneration still on)

Shaman worked his will upwards. He was healing, but slowly. His infusion of power had help erase some of the damage. The Storms came next. He battled the remaining storms first. Tornados were bad, but they would burn themselves out now that they were no longer fueling it. After that explosion, he hoped they were no longer fueling it. If they were ... could he really afford to run away?


[Adrian Moss] 9:02 am: Two attempts each to break the storms

[Adrian Moss] 9:02 am: Last three megas

Adrian Moss *rolls* 13d10: 7+7+10+4+1+8+7+9+9+1+2+5+9: 79

9 successes.

Adrian Moss *rolls* 13d10: 7+6+8+2+8+7+4+5+6+3+1+9+8: 74

8 successes.

Down to 75q; +2 HL's (down 15)

Shaman felt his efforts strike out to the heart of the storm, his efforts were might, but he remained unsure they would be enough. They had shrugged off his earlier attempts after all.

'Now the Tornadoes.'

There was no helping it. Those beasts had to be stopped. The land cried out the injustice of the act. All kinds of animals and plants were dying. Shaman had to do something. More tired than he'd been in a long time, he sought out the core of each funnel and edged them upward, forcing them to dissipate.

Tornado Chaser
Adrian Moss *rolls* 13d10: 2+5+5+9+4+3+8+4+5+2+10+9+7: 73

9 successes.

Adrian Moss *rolls* 13d10: 6+6+4+6+3+2+2+2+3+2+5+5+7: 53

2 successes (man, did that roll blow chunks, or what?)

67 q left n+2 HL's (13 damage left)

The Will reached out and pushed against the damaging winds. For a moment, he saw himself succeeding, but then the energy began slipping away. He reeled it in time, but he knew he had accomplished little. He now needed to see if he had to do more.

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