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[Fiction] Strangers in the Night


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A chime rings out through the Domicile and Prodigy rises. He moves fluidly through the rooms and corridors of his home putting the finishing touches on some important experiments and setting just a few last moves into motion for The Game.

"Hmf. This should put me back in the top five. I don't think I could have handled the condescension much longer."

He moves into the entryway and grabs one of his coats from the rack.

"Micheal. I'll be leaving now. Remember, no snooping. This is a fairly touchy group and I want to play nice."

"Yes James." The voice is a tad sullen. They'd talked about it but any time security was put secondary Micheal was displeased. "Any last minute adjustments?"

Prodigy paused for a moment. Ran through a few thousand computations and probabilities. "Actually, yes. Viacom's South American District V.P. of Finance, Thomas Boulet, has been making some recent anti-Utopian noise. He needs a run in."


"No. Just an attempt. Something sloppy and unsuccessful. The normal precautions apply."

"Yes James. Is that all?"

"Yes, and oh. Thank you for leaving Jager alone. I've noticed. I'm sure he has too. No reason we can't all be friendly."

The silence is more telling than words would be. Prodigy steps into the elevator and a few moments later is deposited in the lobby of the Tokyo Ritz Carlton.

Moving quickly through the crowd he walks to a nearby alley. His dark grey suit and overcoat help him to avoid too much attention. Caucasian tourists are common enough here that his presence is less notable. Only the dark purple oversized glasses are unusual.

He waits three seconds and right on time the portal appears. Fracture steps through. As always Prodigy rolls way normal sight in order to view the young Nova in her true glory. With a shudder the universe falls away and is replaced with a mass of string floating through space. Purples, reds, oranges, blues, and greens. A rainbow and more of color zip across space. Lines of energy intersecting and interacting to form reality. The baselines out on the street are barely discernible, no different really than the bricks in the masonry around him. At effect from the universe around them. Unlike the magnificent young Nova before him.

At effect? Of course not. She is a causal force in reality. Shaping it, and bending it. The strings straighten out around her, no longer lazily curling through space they form an ever changing geometric dance. Perfect angles and forms coalesce in the chaos around her. In her very existence she creates art. Breathing deeply he takes it all in before bringing back his mundane sight.

Prodigy smiles. "Just a moment my dear. I'd prefer to be presentable." He closes his eyes for a moment drops his coat and the dull gray facade falls away. His heavy woolen clothes turn to a beautiful linen suit of brightest green. His shirt is a deep purple, the top few buttons open. The cut of his clothing is immaculate and flattering to a form already tone and lithe. "Thank you. I'm ready now."

And he steps through the portal with a smile.


I shouldn't be so freaking nervous. I guess it's just after everything that happened in Colorado that I don't want to be seen as hasty or impatient. The decisions I make are of my own making, and not of anyone's influence. I still put forth a lot of effort to look my best for this thing, one way or another. A white, princess-cut blouse made of Chinese silk and beige slacks from Bloomingdale's, patent leather shoes made specifically for my feet, and a pair of firewater opal earrings. My hair is back to its natural blonde now; after some serious soul-searching, I didn't see the need to keep up the violet theme I'd worked with for the past couple years. No EuFiber.

I'm still on leave from Project Utopia, using up nearly all of the vacation time I've saved up to figure out what I want to do from here on out. In that time, I've done surprisingly little; mostly catching up on reading and doing some traveling. I've been to Japan, Spain, Australia, and Egypt just trying to straighten things out in my head.

I've never met Codex in all my time with the Project. Not that it is a big deal, I've never spent time with the Asia/Pacific team and our times on the publicity tours never crossed. But it's just weird to me that in the midst of meeting of people like Bastian and Sekhmet I'm gonna end up meeting someone who works for the same people I do.

Prodigy...like Babylon I've looked at his works while he worked with the Project in awe. If I am at a crossroads then surely he has stood at it before and knew which way to walk. That doesn't comfort me at all, in fact it makes me even more nervous. Almost like I'm being tested or something.

Bastian, I expect, will spook me. Don't know what happened between him and Vixen but I imagine it's not going to be something I'd approve of. 'sides, he just sounds swarmy in that touchy-feely type way.

I've already met Ashnod. I hope I don't behave like an uneducated twit while in her presence.

Don't know anything about Sekhmet. I'm assuming that it's a she like the mythological goddess, but you never know.

A quick check of my watch tells me it's time to go. I grab my black leather coat and slip it on and wait. Soon enough, the space around me swells like a bubble of air and finally pops. A hole connecting my hotel room to my destination appears in the middle of, well, whatever that bubble was.

Kathleen "Fracture" Miller waits for me on the other side, with her little angel-of-death-blacker-than-black-gothier-than-thou-minus-the-white-face-paint image. She's just about my age, or I'm just about hers, or something like that. I could have been her, given the right circumstances. Or she me.

Wordlessly, she gestures for me to walk through to the other side.


It was the big day. Today, Regan McLachlan, the Utopian nova known as Codex, might actually become recognised as a genuine historian. She had chosen to forgo her customary beige and rose for the sleek black eufiber uniform that she now wore, doing without the T2M logo in a rare show of tact. To make up for the lack of decoration, the tiny blonde woman had shaped the back low to reveal an elaborate tattoo of a Celtic knotwork tree bearing many fruits that twisted up her back from the bottom of her spine to the nape of the neck. Each fruit had its own meaning, a goal that had been recognized... Just as she wrote history on a page, she inked it into her own flesh and skin. She'd probably give V a heart attack, but Regan was over pandering to the stuffy conservatism of her generation and even what T2M thought. Despite having parchment-coloured skin and her anima banner, she was a striking lady, and since she had gotten her knee-brace from Endeavour, she wasn't embarr assed to show herself off.

A faint premonition advised her to turn just as the Terat known as Fracture showed up. With a cheerful smile at the black-clad girl, Regan stepped up and got her satchel before getting ready to leave.


The afternoon rains had passed, but left that heavy, yet new smell in the air. Bastian was wearing a simple, loose cotton shirt and light cotton pants that came half way down his calves. The place he had chose was right below the place were the mountains rose up above the tropical forest line. The place was fresh and clean, like Eden must have been. He was alone, kneeling, looking down into a small pool of water, waiting.

Fracture sundered reality and stepped through into the rain-soaked air. Bastian turned to her and smiled. *Greetings. Fracture, I presume?*

She started slightly, the ease in which his telepathy slipped into her mind. Yet, something about him gave no threat. He reached out with his mind the way another person might breath. She could feel that about him. She watched him as he rose up and moved toward her. He looked so cherubic and innocent. He smiled at her and rose up. Fracture spotted the shadows moving around his body. Something about them shocked her. Something deep inside her moaned. A piece of herself she didn't want to share with anyone stared back at her from his naked chest.

*It bothers you, doesn't it?*

Bastian pulled his shirt to cover his chest.

She could feel that his aberration didn't bother him, but he did what he did to comfort her.

*Are you ready to go?*

Fracture nods, then realizes that he is stepping closer to her. She takes a half-step back, but he keeps coming. Her look hardens.

Before she can say anything, or even articulate a warning, Bastian despoiled before her eyes. For a moment, there is raw panic.

*It's okay. You haven't hurt me. I find it easier to travel inside here, is all.*

'Get out!'


'I don't want you inside me.'


"Beca ..." died on her lips. Ashnod was always telling her to think, not just react.

*I know you are afraid, Fracture, but I would like you to look at that fear.*

This wasn't she had expected. Bastian was a slaver and a hedonist. A boy toy for Narcosis, who mentally raped and abused people around him.

Yet, while he dipped into her emotional makeup, she could now also dip into his. She could feel his trust and compassion. Yes, she could feel his lust and desire, but she could also feel a kinship that was stronger to him than the rest of his emotions.

'Mess with me, Bastian, and I will make you sorry.'

She could feel that cherubic smile deep within her psyche.

*Of course. It is our nature to become our own masters. Besides, Ashnod is your Val'luat ... your mentor. My clan would not want to make war on hers. It would serve no purpose.*

'As long as we understand each other.'

Fracture opened another portal and stepped away from the misty mountainside.


The fireplace kept the cabin warm enough, but still, she'd made certain that the cracks and leaks in the walls were sealed. She'd had enough preparation that this was a simple enough feat. As far north as it was, bordering on furthest reaches of Canada, she'd wanted it to be as comfortable as possible. As it was also winter, this was essential.

The kitchen held enough food to nourish them two days if necessary. That was a much larger task. She'd received no preferences on what each Nova preferred, so it was kept as simple as possible. Fruits, breads, cheeses, spiced meats and a variety of beverages.

The furniture she acquired specifically for this meeting: a chair for each person given an invitation and a single guest. Black suede fabric with a number of cushions that could be added as needed, arranged in a circle meant to accommodate only those invited. If someone brought a guest, it would be a simple matter of adding one to the ring.

The first three arrived in rapid succession. So quick was the opening and closes of Fracture's gates that it wasn't worth the time to make introductions. Reality kept popping open and closing, an observer unfamiliar with Fracture's abilities might have likened it to water beginning to boil, or air from a diver creeping to the surface as seen from above.

Prodigy. Then Violette. Then Codex.

Some delay on the fourth. Just as the sudden silence started becoming uncomfortable, and the temptation to peek inside the current hole in space grew, Fracture steps back through her final gate, apparently alone.

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Regan looks around the room as she steps through Fracture's portal, her blue-grey eyes taking in everything in one sweeping gaze. She turns with it, and when it alights upon Ashnod, she presses her hands together at the chest as if she is praying and bows slightly, inclining her head. The movements are polite, without a hint of her usual wry cynicism. She repeats the motion with Prodigy and Violette, a hint of a smile flickering across her lips to the latter, and then a third time with Fracture.

"Nice to meet you all," she says in a pleasant medium soprano voice, touched by an educated yet broadly Australian accent. "I'm Codex, but I'm certain I am repeating the obvious to you." Her eyes flicker to the shining-eyed form of Ashnod. "Thank you for hosting us, Milady Ashnod."

The slight blonde chuckles quietly, the parchment hues of her skin flickering as cursive black script that the knowledgeable would recognise as Tolkien's Tengwar script blossoms around her head and shoulders. Her satchel lifts itself off her shoulder and settles on a seat, guided by the pointing of a hand that is also ringed by the black script. "Please excuse my showing off, but my team mates at Asia/Pacific are not impressed by my abilities, so I rarely display them."

Another chuckle. "I guess we all like the opportunity to show off around peers whether we imagine we are human or not, don't we?"

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As Codex finishes talking, Bastian steps out of Fracture. His form starts out barely substantial, but becomes more so as he moves away from her. He makes a single lazy spin, then stops in front of Ashnod. He bows deeply from the waist before her.

An impish smile plays across his face. Shadows dance and weave about his body. Bastian turns to the others, then looks hard at James for a moment. He tilts his head sideways.

*Prodigy, I presume?*

Turning his body, his head stil tilted, he looks over at Codex. He gives her a cherubic smile.

*And, you would be Codex ...*

Then he finishes with Violette, but his smile fails.

*Tomm ... wait, I should be civil. I can hope you are not here to kill me. Greetings, V. Your hair looks better this way. I'm Bastian.*

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Bastian is frowning at me. I haven't the faintest idea why; he didn't do the same for Codex and we're both working for the same organization.


Of course, he hasn't said anything to anyone yet either, so maybe he's just sizing us up. I am, after all, God knows where with four Terats.

Four Terats to two Utopians. Hmm. Reverse required T2M odds. How amusing!

"I am V. It is an honor to meet all of you."

Codex, Prodigy, Ashnod, Fracture, and Bastian...one of us is missing.

"Not to be overly curious, but where's Sekhmet?"

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Bastian looks around the room for a second, judging who listening to him, and who isn't. He frowns in disappointment, then looks to the floor. He sighs, audibly and begins to glow in a soft soothing light.

{{Anima Banner for Force Field}}

A moment later, he rises slowly off the ground.

{{Bodymorph (Psychic Energy) and Flight activated}}.

He looks up and addresses the assembly.

"Greetings, brothers and sisters. I am Bastian."

A disappointed look hangs upon his child-like face.

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Prodigy nods his head to Codex as she greets him. He is smiling lightly.

"A pleasure to make your acquaintance in person Codex. Don't feel embarassed, had I such impressive gifts as yourself I would not hesitate to use them openly either."

[To Ashnod]

He smiles broadly. "Thank you so much for the invitation. While I do try to socialize I've never had the pleasure of this caliber of company and it not have a very cutthroat edge to it."

[To V]

"Will wonders never cease. I'm so happy to meet you after all this time."

[To Bastian]

"Presume? I would think you'd know. But yes."

[after Bastian's little show.]

"Such a sad face for so early. Why ever for?"

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Prodigy: "Such a sad face for so early. Why ever for?"
To Prodigy:*So many minds here are closed to me, Brother Prodigy. All in armor and fear. It is funny. They would think little of risking their flesh, but guard their memories and thoughts against honest thought.
I am letting my cloth of skin and tissue refect the trouble of my mind over this. Is it too much?*

Bastian seems honestly hurt by the whatever he has encountered here.

To Prodigy and Codex: *Do you wish to share a link and/or have me shield your mind? Codex/Prodigy would share in this.*
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A moment passes where she does not acknowledge anyone but Fracture. Something unspoken between them, with eyes and expression perhaps, that ends with Ashnod nodding once and Fracture heading into the kitchen.

After the girl is gone, Ashnod gestures to the circle of chairs in the room. Outside the window behind her, the snow thickly falls upon a completely white landscape, the setting sun almost below the horizon. She moves into the circle, stopping at the first seat she comes to.

She is dressed uncharacteristically in very dark-violet slacks and a black spaghetti-strap top revealing that yes, the glowing red-streak starting at the top of her forehead does descend below her neck and onto her breast, and as she is barefoot, the place where it ends, just before the base of the fourth toe of her right foot, is also visible. A complex design runs the length of her spine, seen as she turns, obviously the bloodwork of the flesh-artist Stigmata.

She faces the gathering. "I am pleased that all of you are here. I am Ashnod, as most of you know. Welcome V, Bastian, Prodigy, and of course Ms. McLachlan."

She settles into her chair.

"Sekhmet sends apologies to us all. It appears that unless circumstances change, it will only be members of the Teragen and," she eyes V briefly as she speaks, "Project Utopia that will be in attendance for this little discussion."

One hand absently drifts behind her, pointing to the window.

"Welcome to Canada, if you have never visited before, in the northern reaches of the Alberta province. Please, have a seat. Would anyone care for something to drink?"

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Prodigy stops for a moment, considering. Yes, this is a friendly gathering, but one's thoughts are one's most valuable treasures.

"You have to understand Bastian, to let you into my mind is to extend a level of trust I have offered to only one before you. I accept of you that you are open to a degree most would find horrifying. Please accept of me that I have not yet achieved that level of openess. If you can restrict yourself to those fleeting thoughts on the surface I would be willing to meet you that far. I doubt you'd find the inner recesses of my mind all that comforting in any event. In this place, under Ashnod's roof I would feel sure in stating that no one here would think of doing harm, or trying to manipulate anyone else. To do so would invite dire consequences and dark times. "

Prodigy moves to a chair and sit's down, crossing his legs in a manner not quite masculine. "This being said, I would deign to lower my defenses for this, our very special occasion."

[to Ashnod] "Yes, I would love something to drink. If you've any sort of fruit juice, fermented or fresh, that would be splendid."

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Bastian nods to Prodigy.

To Prodigy: *Surface thoughts are fine, Brother. One day, if a level of trust and understanding can be established, you might find a true gestalt facinating. If Teras tries >>psychic grin<< to teach me anything, brother, it is telling me to slow down and be patient.*

Bastian turns to Ashnod, mentally scrawls on her walls again, then sighs.

He shakes his head to the offer of a drink.

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So that's what's going on? Okay, things make a little more sense now. He wants to speak mentally with everyone.

Part of me is excited by that idea. Truly, if this meeting were held only in the mind, would it not be a momentous occasion? Something for Codex to tell the world that a meeting between us all took place on the level of thought, where it was pure?

And yet, I cannot let go of my fears. This is Bastian for crying out loud! Remember what he did to Vixen, regardless of why he claims to have done it! And even if he wouldn't do that now, I've got all this knowledge in my head, codes and data on Project Utopia and he's a Terat and I can't just hand all of that to him on a silver platter.

Could he resist the temptation to poke around in my head? I don't know. But I just can't bring myself to trust him enough. Not yet.

"Champagne, if you have any," I say to Ashnod. "If not, fruit juice is fine for me as well."

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"If anyone tried anything here, we'd all be in deep shit," Regan says bluntly. "I, for one, am willing to trust in Ashnod's safeguards."

She glances at Bastian. *I don't have psychic shields per se, but I can keep you out of certain parts of my mind. I would prefer that you kept to the front part of it - the library foyer if you will - during the course of this meeting. I don't deny anyone the chance to learn or communicate, but there are things as a Utopian I can't allow you to see. Do you understand?*

She chuckles mentally. *Besides, my friend, you called me a bard, and I consider that a high compliment. I don't know why you and Vixen rumbled or how; frankly I don't care. But I will throw you out of my mind if I sense you doing something I don't like, and I'd do it if you were Terat, Aberrant, Utopian or whatever. If youi think you're up to understanding the mind of an autistic, be my guest.*

"If V doesn't wish to share her mind with Bastian, she can link to me and I'll pass things on. Does that sound fair?"

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To Codex: *>>psychic smile<< I understand. I will only access the parts of the mind you allow me in.*

*You are a bard, in the Classic Hibernian sense. Given time, I would like you to see the history of the One Race that myself and others are compiling. A living record of our words and deeds. Should something happen to me and my friends, this record shouldn't be lost. We can talk more about this later.*

*Every mind is special to me, Codex. Would an autistic mind be any worse for me to navigate than that of a murderer, or rapist?*

Codex get the feeling of talking to a small child savant. Her trust seems to please him.

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*If you think you're up to handling the dichotomy between computer-like analysis and uncontrollable emotion, be my guest. It's either one or the other with an Aspergers' person - I've learnt to control it somewhat, but never master it - so be careful. I'm not joking here either, Bastian - I'm literally caught between the ennui of the desert and the turmoil of the rapids emotionally.*

The small blonde chuckles aloud. *I'd be interested in seeing the Terats' idea of history some day, Bastian. It's a date.*

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She says nothing for the longest time, observing the interaction between Codex, Prodigy, and Bastian. One curious eyebrow lifts at Prodigy's labeling of this cabin as "Ashnod's home," but she says nothing to interrupt.

After enough time has passed, she accepts the Tomorrowite's absence of an answer as an answer and rises from her seat. She vanishes into the kitchen, returning with a champagne flute and two wine glasses. The former is handed to Violette, the latter, which is filled with a rich red spirit, is divided between herself and Prodigy.

A few moments after the EuFiber-clad woman chuckles, she finally speaks up.

"I anticipate problems with this arrangement," she states, her voice firm. "It is obvious that a significant amount of mental communication is occurring. While this is all well for those involved in the link, it is, however, impolite to those of us not. I will not engage in discourse in which some of the participants are actively speaking to each other in a fashion that excludes those who don't wish to join in the link.

"It would be tedious to ask one of those linked to consistently relay what is said verbally to those of us not linked. Also, it's very likely that some of what is spoken mentally will not be relayed audibly."

She brings the wine glass to her lips, tasting the red liquid.

"Thus, we must make a decision, and it must be agreed by all if we are to continue. Either mental communication must stop, and everything spoken, or all parties involved must be part of the link. No exclusions, no half-ways, no factions, and no cliques."

"Before anyone says anything," she then turns to Bastian, "I'm assuming it is within your abilities to link everyone together. If the answer is yes, then it must be fully agreed between all, nothing more than transmission and reception of thoughts. No probing beyond that. No secondary conversations held on a deeper level of minds. If this is not acceptable to us, we must agree to verbal communication only. If that is not acceptable then this meeting is at an end, and I'll have Fracture return you to wherever you wish to go, and you may continue as you desire from there.

"This will be on even ground or not at all. So, with Bastian's answer, we then decide how this will continue."

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[Prodigy will speak out loud, but will accept Bastian's mental communications. I am assuming that everyone can hear everyone else when doing the **Hi** thing.]

"Well Codex, if he can't handle your own little peculiarities he should keep well out of my own psychic landscape. I possess one genuine psychopath, three autistics, and two manic-depressives, one with full-blown schizophrenia to boot, all within the confines of my mind. It seems, that when shopping for talent I also received more than the fair share of mental problems. But isn't that always the case? The talented have powerful demons to match their gifts."

He turns to Ashnod, "I'd like to thank you from the begining of this. Using your considerable reputation and the respect we all feel for you to bring us together like this is a truly enjoyable treat. I can't wait to see what comes of it."

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Bastian clears his throat. Not suprisingly, his voice is angelic and light, almost feminine. He speaks English with a strong French accent. For those who can tell, it is a Swiss dialect.

"Yes, I can link all of us telepathicly. Also, both V and Codex can initiate contact with me ... be in my mind, instead of me being in theirs, if they so desire. If Ashnod trusts you enough to bring you here, that should have been good enough for me."

Bastian bows in Ashnod's direction.

"I was rude, Big Sister. I apologize."

He turns and bows to V.

"I apologize to you as well. Not only have I prejudged you, but I was a poor guest to not greet you in a manner you were accustomed to. Again, I apologize."

{{After V's reply, if there is one...}}

"I can also link us into a Psychic Gestalt. I do not expect it this time, but it does allow a much stronger and faster connection. It does require an acceptance of a great deal of honesty and emotional content, though."

{{Think of it as a really weak and pathetic attempt at GroupThink, but hey, he's got to start somewhere.}}

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"Thank you," she nods to Prodigy.

She turns back to Bastian.

"As you are unused to greeting others with the spoken word, I'd wager those present were unaware of the manner that you are accustomed to. You have no need to apologize, but I thank you for your earnesty."

She brings the wine glass to her lips again.

"I also don't believe that a gestalt is necessary. Simply a linking of minds will suffice. Does anyone object to this?"

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I look down at my drink, twirling the flute in tiny motions so the champagne inside spins.

Bastian's words shame me. After all, I'm a telepath myself. If I wanted to I could probably sneak into the minds of any one of the four Terats here and learn something they wouldn't want me to know.

It's a matter of trust then. Of both sides trusting the other to keep their word. Let's hope everyone is as honorable as they're claiming.

"I am sorry, too, Bastian," I finally say, looking back up at him while I do. "I've also prejudged you."

I look at everyone else here. "So long as it's only for communication, I'll agree to the link too."

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With Ashnod's approval, Bastian begins linking all the assembled minds into one.

First, V and Codex come together, their surface thoughts like quiet whispers to themselves, to one anothers. Their minds, being naturally telepathic, instinctively know and seperate Bastian's thoughts from eachothers. They can both feel Bastian reaching within himself to push the link farther.

Bastian breaths deeply and does a single pirouette as he floats. Were others might use concentration, Bastian uses passion. Something about V, lying on a bed, with fish-net pantyhose and little esle leaks through, then Ashnod and Prodigy join the link.

For the telepaths, it is easiest to figure out how to talk to one another, as well as to the assemby. The links do not travel through Bastian after their creation, but weave around and through each nova individually.

Bastian settles back, a bit drained, but obviously pleased with himself.

*Yeah, Me!* he thinks to all, with childish glee.

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No telepathic link is to be undergone lightly. It takes a while for the inexperienced telepath to get acclimated to the fact that each thought carries with it a certain amount of baggage. It could be a carton of chocolates for a thought of love, or a plate of iron for regret. Rare is the thought that has nothing attached to it.

Knowing this, she waits for everyone to feel out their respective links in the chain, to understand that simple words are not going to be relayed but also that which is the source of those words, the idea those words are there to represent. To know that not only will they be receiving these ideas, but transmitting them as well.

**Excellent, Bastian. (acknowledgement of his abilities) Now that we are all here (the word here indicating the link, carries with it a hint of amusement) everything can begin.(curiosity, and much of it.) I am but the organizer here. This meeting was requested by the two of you. (the thought of "two" indicating Codex and Bastain) What would you like to speak of?**

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*It actually started out as a bit of a joke,* Regan confessed, the image of a drably clad woman with a knee-brace sitting at a computer seeping through her thoughts, touched with wryness. *Not like a prank or anything, just a wry joke.*

A mental chuckle follows. *Now, I'd very much like to hear things from the horse's mouth, so to speak. Prodigy and Ashnod (feelings of respect) are Terats who I can relate to. Bastian, I honestly don't know much about you, but that's beside the point. I've studied philosophical writings before, but the Null Manifesto is unique. If it's not invading your privacy, please tell me what you see in it, so I can possibly understand it more.*

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(giddy)*For me, it has to do with my spiritual search for novas and who we are ... (some embarrassment) or maybe, were. I came to talk to Sekhmet.*

*It is my belief we/novas are the fragments of some earlier divinity. I believe some of us might be more ... in tune with who we once were.*

(dozens of images of lessons being taught, talking to other novas, reading tomes in Sanskrit, and etchings off of stone pliths ... much frustration)

(admiration)*Ashnod should speak first about Teras. She is a (various words in differnt tongues which fail to describe the meaning) ... mentor among us.*

{{Bastian is very emotional, with various high and lows rolling about.}}

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[in this case Prodigy would be a little hard to read. There would be a constant 'hum' underneath his *voice*. A faint echo of hundreds of conflicting emotional responses.]

*I agree (certainty).*

*Ashnod (respectfearcuriousity) has one of the firmest grasps on Teras I've encountered. My own alliance (need)with the Teragen (protectionhaven) has less to do with philosophy (waste) and more to do with pragmatism (value). Novas are bad for baseline society (drainpull) and baselines retard the growth of Nova society (hopefuture). I don't tend to get more deep than that.*

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As Codex thinks joke, there is overwhelming unamusement, sense of time being wasted, the question of If it was a joke, you should have made mention of it before I went to the effort of organizing this meeting. Silence from her after that as she keeps her thoughts still for Bastian and Prodigy.

Finally, with impatience looming at the foremost of her thoughts, she looks at Codex.

**Ms. McLachlan, I don't tend to suffer fools lightly. You could have asked (waste of time) us about the Manifesto on the forums, in fact a thread 8 pages long consisting of 316 posts currently resides on the board about it. I've spent more time (exhaustion, sense of pointlessness) defending and dissecting that document than I have desired to. Most of these posts, essays, articles, speeches (How many times must I say the same things over again?) are archived or can be accessed via an OpNet download. Are you honestly telling me that we've gone to great lengths to meet clandestinely to have you ask me the same question I've been answering publicly since 2008?**

She folds her arms over each other, still holding her wine glass aloft.

**Do you have something more specific about the Manifesto you'd like to ask? What, exactly (specifics, don't dance around the real query), would you like to know?**

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*Ashnod, my apologies. (contrition mixed with wryness) It started as a bit of a joke, me bringing up the idea of the meeting, but when people started to agree (surprise) I realised it was a good idea. Some of the best minds from the Teragen and Utopia are in this room, meeting peacefully! (pleased surprise) I'm happy to discuss nearly anything, from the possibility of alternate realities to religion. Especially religion, being a theologist myself. I was hoping this would be a discussion on philosophy and such, but I must confess I didn't actually have real topics in mind. (contrition again) I apologise for that again.*

Regan's face remains serene except for the familiar wry quirk of her lips, as if she is laughing at herself. *I guess my first question would be how would the Manifesto apply, in each of your opinions, to the spiritual and moral needs of novas? Yes, I know, it's been said a million times on the OpNet and television, but things like this I like to hear from the people themselves. Forgive me, but I became interested in religion and history in order to understand myself, other people and the world around me. How does the Manifesto fit in all of that?*

Her thoughts are clear and precise, touched with her usual wryness and underlied by a desire to know and learn.

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suprise - dumbfounded quiet - understanding dawing on him

Bastian physically bows his head in the direction of Ashnod.


**Codex, there are three ways we look at things from a spiritual context. First (smiles) is my approach, which is that we are the shard-souls of ancient dieties, who were themselves, powers before the universe had formed. Thus our control over the basic building blocks of reality, and how so many of us void conventional wisdom on who reality works. As we grow in power, and understanding of ourselves/taint, we may better recall who we were. This belief would hold that (awe-worship-respect) Divis Mal is the re-emerged spirit of creation, like Shiva, or the Pheonix.**

**Another view is that we are the universal re-awakening of a spiritual divinity that is part of the cosmos, and always has been. We, as novas, are new to the world as we know it. This belief still concedes that nova-like beings may have existed earlier in human history, but with the coming of (awe-worship-respect) Divis Mal, a fundemental balance in reality has shifted. These believers hold that we are to make the world anew, in our own individual image.**

**Lastly, (long-standing distain pushed aside by understanding) there are those among us who feel that we are a magnificent leap forward in evolution. There is a spirituality to this, though (shame) I have not always seen it this way. The faith is that we are the genetic successors to mankind. Baseline-kind, anyway. How we, as the next incarnation, react to this role, is the great mental and physical struggle that awaits us.**

(smiles-happiness)**That is the rough outline of it, and no belief outways another. How may I expound on any of this, for you, or V?**

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I have an overwhelming sense of uselessness all of a sudden, I have to concentrate hard to squelch it so it doesn't transfer over the link to everyone else. The only person who really wanted to speak with me is Sekhmet, who had to be absent. Sigh...at least Prodigy seems happy to see me. Nice to finally be able to place faces with all these names after all this time, too.

**Why is Mal the spirit of creation in the first instance?** (Curiosity)

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(Suprise-distrust-acceptance)**Mal was the first light to step forward from the darkness.

(mental shuffling of memories into a coherent pattern)

Okay. I have been taught many things about the (awe-worship-respect) Divine Mal. I will refer to him as (control) Mal, for your convienence.

Mal was the first of us. Before Galatea. Before we knew ourselves as novas, he was there. Understand this, though. He did not set us upon this path. Teras, as we call it. That fell to others. By his example, they/the first had a glimpse of what we were capable of, but it fell to us, as individuals, to find our own way.

Mal is not our leader. Nor, is Ashnod here invested with any authority I do not wish her to have.

But, I digress. I have not met Mal. I have learned under others who have. He came to the first because he knows Utopia and its masters are not the way for us. Their future isn't ours. They did not start by thinking about us, or trying to understand who and what we were. I understand they have pushed their science to understand us, but do they know who we are? Really? Do they care?

Throughout that latter part of this, Bastian is calm and controlled.

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(Surprise, then the sense of regrouping)

Is he for real? I mean, we've all heard the online stories about Novas predating 1998, but there's no proof. Is there?

**Okay...please don't take this as being argumentative, cause I'm sincerely (honestly) curious...but firstly, just because he's the first makes him the spirit of creation? Couldn't he be just another shard soul? And secondly...(hesitation) pre-Galatea? You know this for a fact? (uncertainty)**

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(Shock ripples through the link from Codex)

*Divis Mal (shock/worry/concern/fear/curiosity) was the first nova?* she demands mentally. *Holy Blessed Goddess help me!*

She calms herself, but her feelings are still easily sensed. *A friend and I had theorised that the heroes of old like Merlin had been novas... Lord and Lady! (curiosity prevalent) Do you have historical proof, Bastian?*

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Prodigy leans back even farther, fascinated that V and Codex seem open to the possibility.

**I don't know if Bastian does. But I do. I collect data. As do most of you, one way or another. However, I've come across some caches (guilty pleasure) from time to time that changed hands in the shadow. There have been a number of instances, with proof beyond rumor and folktale, in which individuals came about who were capable of feats beyond baseline ability. Do they match the abilities of the luminaries before me? No. (deadly serious) We are not the first and Galatea was not in all ways the beginning.**

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**As to Mal I cannot answer. I've met him but once and we did not exactly become fast friends. I do not socialize with his closest companions either. Considering those are the only truly trustworthy sources of knowledge regarding him I would have to admit to being very in the dark when it comes to Mal. As for pre-Galatea Novas, I do believe I have enough evidence to state with much confidence that in fact there were node-active individuals prior to the Galatea explosion.**

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(curiosity shrinking to skepticism)

**That's not a yes or a no. Much confidence implies a significant margin for error, or at least evidence that would point to a contradictory point-of-view. You believe you have enough evidence? This is all hypothetical, then, isn't it? Please, I'm not trying to say that you're wrong, or anything, but am I misunderstanding you? You're telling me you cannot say yes, and then offer conclusive proof, but only that you believe, and you feel your evidence will support your belief?**

(anxiousness, anticipation, expectations of a positive response to the final question, desire for a negative one.)

I feel I'm probably pushing things a bit here. I can't help it! It's like being on the edge of something powerful and having it dangled as a carrot from a string before a beast of burden.

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(perplexed moving to determination)

**Sister V, that is not the case. I am limited in what I would devulge because of your status as a Utopian. Please understand my frustration. I would not endanger the sect, but I would not impede the growth of another nova.**


(open, but directed to Ashnod)

**Big Sister, is there nothing you can do? You know more of what happened before I joined, and more of this one(Violette) than I do. You have the faith and confidence of the others. What can be said to V and Codex?**

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Prodigy stands and starts to pace. His fingers tap on his thigh in a nervous rythym.

" V, I have evidence. Evidence is evidence. Any scientist who presents what he claims to be undeniable proof has very likely not done his job very well. With the existence of Novas you cannot have absolute certainty of anything. I have in my possession a brick. This brick transforms from normal, unremarkable adobe on one end and shifts to purest gold on the other. I've run test after test and can, again, with confidence, state that the brick was transformed by a Nova and that this transformation occured a great deal of time prior to the Galatea. Now, is this proof? No. We have Novas in evidence who can manipulate the fabric of time and matter. It is possible that they could have replicated this evidence. Do I believe that this is the case. No."

He stops and drinks his drink calmly for a few seconds.

"I will not cut my throat here. You and Codex are Utopians regardless of whether or not you've come in the spirit of exploration. What I have gathered and what I know comes from a variety of sources. A good deal of it illegally gained. I have my reasons and do not seek absolution. But I am not in a position where I could publish a paper with my findings. I tell you what I tell you simply because Bastian has decided to spill the beans and you seem interested."

During this Prodigy's body language will switch a number of times. Masculine to feminine, self-assured to nervous and near panicked. His facial features and voice will remain under control.

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