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[Fiction] Pow wow: Opening day, early morning.


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July 1st 2014 0400-0900

Oglala South Dakota


The dawn was just a faint glow on the horizon heralding the day that was to come. The day had long since started for the man lounging in a deep pool of a small fast moving stream. Man wasn’t probably the best word to define his new life and form so Nova would do.

Totem dipped his head into the cool water and lay on the bottom of the rocky streambed for several minutes. Dreading the day ahead, knowing full well every eye on the reservation would be on him. The opening ceremony for the Intertribal Pow-Wow was a great honor and most everyone involved always took great pride in performing it as best they could.

He however was wracked with uncertainty. Since his rebirth into his new life they had seen him as something far more than he saw of himself. How many mornings had he gone down the long gravel lane to fetch the mail for grandfather only to find stacks of offerings for him or the occasional pilgrim sitting peacefully among the rocks and dust. They would smile at him and he would smile back but he didn’t know what else to do. He couldn’t bless them, he didn’t know how. They had come to see him and it scared him to death. “Better than Michaelites I guess.” Totem bubbled from beneath the surface of the stream.

Finding some resolve the large beast pulled himself out of the brisk water and shook dry. He had to do this for his people and himself and he knew this. After thinking for so long what he should be doing with his new life it always kept coming back to this land. He wasn’t for the stardom or the conflicts that others of his kind now performed in. He still might not know exactly what his function is but he knew he had to try.

Totem was lost in thoughts and memories as he scratched his back against a large tree making it wobble back and forth and upsetting a few roosting birds above him. The day he finally went back to grandfather and showed him his new form he expected him to have a heart attack but the old man recognized him and acted like little had changed. The short few days before Utopia came and gathered him up seemed like a dream. Some in Oglala panicked, others whooped in joy, either way causing chaos. The council gave him his new name, which isn’t the one he really shared with the world. Totem seemed easy enough for outsiders to understand and he could only laugh when thinking about how the Waisichu media would butcher ‘Owe Otakuye Tankia Wa Ka Ska’

Finally he couldn’t put it off any longer. He didn’t need a watch to realize the sun was creeping over the hills and he needed to get to the fairground. He sighed and took one last drink from the cool stream and sniffed the air before his massive wings unfolded. He leapt high into the sky, heading for a new beginning again in such a very short time.

The butterflies in his stomach multiplied as he saw the crowds already forming. He circled the fairground so high up that people couldn’t recognize him as anything but a bird as he examined the area. The first thing that he noticed was Sakurako’s domes he grinned at her helpfulness but then his jaw dropped. There where so many people, cars overflowed the lot and where parked in the fields nearby. News trucks with satellite dishes unfurled pointed skyward. N!, CNN, FOX and others, all here and ready to show the world how even a huge nova could make a complete ass of himself.

Pirouetting lower he figured he might as well get it over with so he dove down behind a row of tents that had been set aside for the performance. Alighting gently for his size he saw Herald and Tina within a tent getting costumes ready for the dance. “Hey guys are we set to go?” To which Tina stormed over to him. “Where the hell have you been!? You where supposed to be here over an hour ago to help move that pole that the little nova girl had dropped off!” The griffin winced, he had forgot about that. “Oh sorry Tina I just lost track of time. Do you still need me to get it?” Tina smiled, she was in her mid forties and Totem had known her all of his life. She worked at the only supermarket in Oglala. “No me and the boys managed to haul it into the tent. I just want you to stick around. The opening ceremony starts in an hour and I don’t want you pulling no last second disappearing act like you tend to do.” She laughed and nudged him. He was comforted that she wasn’t bothered by him like a lot of the others where, not many where so open and casual with him. Sure they liked him but they treated him like a formal guest not an old friend. “Okay Tina I am gonna go get some breakfast and I will be back, promise.” With that he lumbered out of the tent and made his way toward one of Sakurako’s structures that was hopefully packed full of people making flat cakes and others tasty breakfast goodies. With a few fast dodges and camouflages he managed to avoid some of the wandering reporters that prowled the fairgrounds. He knew Sheriff White Elk gave them strict rules on bothering the Novas that would be here but he knew he would need to give some interviews sometime today. As he made his way through the crowds he greeted those who had the courage to speak to him. He was polite and as friendly as he could be with a growling stomach. As he pawed onward toward food he kept his eyes and nose alert for his friends and guests.

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As dawn breaks over the eastern horizon of South Dakota, Sakurako wakes up as the first rays of light strike her face. She decided to enjoy some fresh air by sleeping on top of one of the domes she deployed in the area. She's starting to regret it.

"Ow, got a kink in my neck... Mental note, bring a pillow when you decide to sleep outside..."

She stands up, the dome's wall easily holding her up without deformation.

"Ah. No leaks at all. I so impress myself."

She starts taking a few steps, then starts grinding down one of the support wires, balancing herself with her flying ability. She hops off the taught support wire as she sees the crowds forming for the morning with... News Crews?

"Oh great. You tell them not to bother everyone, then they become bird watchers..."

She pulls out a pair of collapsible binoculars from a cargo pocket on her khaki shorts and scopes the scene.

"N!, CNN, FOX, NHK/FUJI... Great. Even Japan is interested. Perhaps because I'm here. Bother." She grumbles.

She straightens her khaki colored sailor collared blouse she's wearing, that looks more like something an archaeologist or some explorer would like, then adjusts her wide brimmed hat.

"Well, at least I'm one of the more photogenic of the novas here... Although Totem is quite a majestic animal." She giggles. "Hope to hell that Steve Irwin don't start harassing him..."

She starts walking easily through the crowds, heading to a small dome she's using to store some of her gear and her portable computer system.

"Might as well set up to grab some grub. I'm starving."

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Codex arrived at eight, dressed in her rose blouse and beige-patterned skirt that screamed 'Librarian!' to the world. She had wrangled with Pax and Laragione for hours over this; they were concerned about India Syndrome, but she wanted to come here to enjoy herself. In the end, she told them that she'd go as an unofficial observer. Pax wasn't thrilled, but after she had calmed the gryphon down at the XWF, he wasn't going to argue with her ability to handle him.

She had travelled by plane to America, finally taking the bereavement leave she was due after Julie had died. Of course, her self-appointed bodyguard had come along with her, probably wondering why she hadn't made a book-run to get here from Addis Ababa.

"So, Franklin, what do you think?" she asked without looking to the side as she stepped out of an open magazine and let go of his hand.

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Franklin shakes his shoulders, his ever present white eufiber hanging loose on him, "Looks like it is going to be a media circus. I feel bad for Totem, I do not think he expected nor wanted this much attention."

He squints a bit, surveying the area with vigilant eyes, "Still, it looks like it will be a lot of fun. Hopefully we will have time to talk with Totem and some of the others without the cameras and parabolic microphones observing."

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Two miles outside of the Oglala fairgrounds, in a sparsely wooded area just to the west still mildly shrouded in the pre-dawn shade, the air in the immediate vicinity took on a slight charge. A hole opened in the fabric of space, making a sound not entirely unlike a vacuum opening up in a space station, that unmistakable sound of air rushing into a place that none previously existed. And when it was over, the nova known as ronin stood alone in first rays of dawn's light, as they began to spill through the trees, bathing his body in pale streamers of day in vertical slats.

Traveling with such dramatics wasn't as covert as he normally liked, but it helped to save his energy, and allowed him to both enjoy the hike onto the grounds and to do some recon on the site from afar, should things become unnecessarily complicated. It was always good to have a plan in mind, to know your options and to have all bases covered in an emergency, ronin noted to himself.

A media circus had already sprung up around the site, ronin grimaced as he moved out of the grove and to the apex of the hill that overlooked the small valley the fairgrounds sat in. He spotted several of Hino's dome structures erected already, in the places he would have expected. Hino had arrived well ahead of him, he noted. He had tried his best to maintain a close watch over her because of the recent threat DeathSquad posed, but the truth of the matter was that after their last meeting, things had been a little...weird.

Which he expected.

Because of that, ronin was careful to watch diligently, but from a careful distance. If Sakurako needed to talk to him, he reasoned, she would approach him. Until then, this was a time for both of them to show their stuff autonomously of each other, something that'd be good not just for he and she, but for every nova here. After all, that was sort of the point.

Besides. Some people might take issue with ronin being here, and he'd rather not extend that to Sakurako. She deserved to have a good time.

ronin had been assimilating a lot of pop culture, lately, and because of that, he could not help but liken the image people must have had of himself from afar to that of Jubei, and Clint Eastwood. Decked out in a gear that he had hoped would be appropriate to the terrain and the occassion without being disrespectful to his hosts, he wore a simple brown poncho and ancient tan and brown pants and button-down shirt, and a wide-brimmed, flat-topped had shielding him unnecessarily from the beaming sun that proceeded it's ascent before him.

As ronin neared the site, he felt his node flush slightly, and with a mild furrow of his brow, he became...well...ordinary. Nobody around seemed to notice his approach, nor did they care when he finally arrived. He moved unmolested through the crowds of people, both native and foreign, and made his way towards one of the gleaming domes, fetched himself a cup of coffee, and sat down in a place with full view of the mob assembling around the grub tents.

He sipped his coffee and watched the people mill about in the morning revelrie, and smiled a little bit.

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Along the main highway leading to the fairgrounds, DigiGeist starts making his way to the festivities. He's wearing the high-collared black coat-like jacket he had grabbed while in Japan. His node is off, and he has his usual black vest, black slacks, and patent leather shoes with a loose white shirt. He doesn't notice the building heat, since he's lost the need to watch the temperature after his eruption.

He has his belongings slung over his right shoulder, in a black duffle bag. Attached is a black cylinder that is roughly 1.25 meters or more in legnth. He non-chalantly walks unto the approach to the fairgrounds and notices the domes.

"Heh, she spared no expense..." He quips as he looks for who he wanted to see...

"Now, where is this Totem fellow..."

He squints and looks over the scene after switching on his node. To take advantage of his enhanced sight. His elvish features coming to the fore.

"Hrm... He's making himself scarce."

As he approaches the outer tents and tee-pees of the festival, he spots Codex.

"Ah. Codex is here... But I'd better lie low for now... Something tells me there'll be more fish to troll around here..."

He walks by one of the smaller domes, being used for a cafeteria/cantina, and enters to enjoy some time with the locals.

"As they say, when in rome..."

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"ON THE ROAD AGAIN!!!! JUST CAN'T WAIT TO GET BACK ON THE ROAD AGAINNNNNNN!!!! uhm...something something something, I just can't wait to get back on the road again..."

The gruff but friendly voice shouted more than sang as the H5 Custom Hummer tooled along the rough road to the Pow Wow. Leonard Harold Hoffman was postively giddy. His first real vacation in years had his head swimming and the natural beauty of the landscape about did him in.

Then the sight of the enormous traffic jam ahead of him brought him back down to earth. "Holy heck, it'll take hours to get through this. Hmf. I should have expected it. Totem was pretty open about inviting novas and I guess they're will be more lookieloos than honest to goodness Native Americans. Oh well. No need to wait here." With that he pulled off to the side of the road and slid his furry body out from behind the seat. He waved happily to some children in the backseat of a beat up SUV and stopped to chat with them for a few moments. He then politely excused himself.

He looked over his shoulder as he walked back to his Hummer, "You kids want to see something neat?" he asked with an enormous grin that crossed his wide face. Hunkering down beside the vehicle he lifted it up and shimmied under it until he was centered. Then, squatting down on his stubby legs until his belly touched the ground Leonard gripped the custom handles carefully and then pushed off with a grunt, sending he and the vehicle a dozen yards into the air and three times that distance down the road. He repeated this several more times until he reached to Pow Wow staging area, always careful to only aim at clear areas within sight. Upon his arrival he put lowered the vehicle and gapped in wonder at the mass of people, and the camp as it was being put together. "Wow, this should be fun."

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A lone figure sat on the outskirts of the area.Not really near anyone,and yet not really far away from the edge.She had a large bag by her side,and good sized drawn pad.Besides her was a small machine,with small, vile of inks sticking out of it.She held a pen", that had a cord going to the machine.

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As he enters the tent in search of food Totem's coat shifts from the camouflage patterns he used to evade the reporters to his more recognizable colors of browns and white.

Nice that the entrances where big enough for him and the tables where set apart enough for him to move past without bumping them he thought as he moved up to the counter leading to the kitchen. The ladies working hard in the kitchen all waved and smiled at the young Nova and he flicked his tail in greeting. "Hi Totem! Are you hungry?" "Do you even have to ask?" He responds with a grin curving the back of his beak.

Platters of food are brought to a table as he sits back on his haunches. He has to stop himself from drooling in anticipation. Then reminds himself as he eats that many people are watching and he has to do his best to have good table manners.

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Codex enters one of the grub tents, following her telepathic scan. She knows that Singularity is following her, and she smiles briefly, albeit sadly. Julie had followed as closely...

She stops a few feet away from Totem and calls out, "Hey honey. Mind if I and Franklin join you for breakfast?"

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A brisk fall through blue light, and I'm emerging out from one of the sockets on the CNN truck's mobile power supply. I wasn't entirely certain I'd be able to travel the networks here at all until I saw the preliminary footage on the OpNet sites. Lucky for me the media can't stay away from a gathering of novas this big.

"Oh my god!" a stray cameraman wearing a FOX logo exclaims as I make the transformation from energy back to matter. "It's V! It's Violet D'Aroniqueue!"

Ugh. Double ugh. He got both my first and last names wrong. You'd think after all this time people would learn how to say my name!

The FOX cameraman's exclamation is drawing the attention of his crew and the other news crews nearby. I see several men and women picking up serious looking microphones and beginning to head my way.

I relish the fact that for the first time in several years I'm simply Violette D'Aronique, private citizen, and not V, member of Team Tomorrow Americas. I don't have to play nice with the media right now. Nodding once so as to not appear too rude, I turn away and begin briskly making my way towards the big domed structure that could only be Endeavor's creation.

I'm glad I purchased my own EuFiber before leaving Project Utopia. It's wonderful to be able to change clothes at a whim. I spend a moment concentrating as I walk and my dear little outfit shifts and morphs around me. Kinda tickles, truth be told. In moments, I've changed from my baggy khakis and baby-doll tee to a more appropriate blue sarong and tank-top. Okay, maybe it's not more appropriate, but it's a little classier than what I was wearing.

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The prideful child,and spoiled brat was what she saw when looking to the crowd.A PR whore in the worst way.But today wasn't a day to make that type of news.Today was day for mischief and teasing,not killing and bleeding.

So she went back to her art works.Drawing thing that would get laughs,scorn,envy and hate from people.She had a rather wicked grin on her lips,as she thought of the next picture she would draw.That drawing would find it's way into the archives of many of news papers.

She made no notice, or gestures to grab anyone's eyes. She wasn't here for her own news time.She may talk to those who talked to her,but she didn't go out of her way to talk to anyone.

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Jager came to the camp shortly after dusk. He carried a four-point Mule deer buck on his shoulders. He wore weathered jeans and a blue bandana, but nothing else. His bare feet glided effortlessly along the ground. The other campers he approached didn’t hear him until he was inside the circle of their fire. Something in his presence comforted them, and made them feel as if the stranger belonged here. Wordlessly, he communicated his desire to share his kill and two of the Sioux agreed to help. They skinned the deer and began letting in bleed out.

Jager joined them around the fire and slowly joined the conversation. The discussed the weather, the growing heat, and other such matters that impacted their daily lives. The conversation came around to the appearance of Totem among them, and Jager listened to the divided opinions. Was he a true spirit link and a call to the past, or was he a young man who had lucked out? The question went back and forth, then one of the women turned to Jager.

“What do you think, stranger?”

“What do we call you?” a young man added.

Jager shrugged, so one of the younger men spoke up.

“How about Pale Wolf?” he asked.

Again, Jager shrugged, but a few of the others gathered around the fire nodded.

One of the older women at the fire spoke up.

“Well, strang … Pale Wolf, you aren’t exactly going to be confused for a member of the People. Pale Wolf will do nicely.”

Jager smiled at her, and said, “Thank you. That will do nicely.

The young man, who had suggested the name, beamed.

“So, what do you think?” the younger woman spoke, bringing the subject back on track.

“Well, I’ve met him only once, but if you want my opinion, it’s this. Can’t he be both? The part of him that is a 17 year old Ogala boy is still there, but he is also much more, now. Scientists say Quantum, and shamans say Spirits. I say, ask him if you think its important. If not, be happy for him … and patient. He is new to the world, and if you want to keep him as a part of your world, it will take the efforts of both parts … People and Totem.”

The rest were quiet as they mulled it over. Then, the matter of butchering and cooking the deer took over. The hide had to be scraped and cured, the bones and horn collected for later use, and the meat cut into eatable pieces. The parts they weren’t going to use had to be gathered up and buried. As the group did so, they caught Pale Wolf whispering some words over the ‘grave’.

As the walked back, the younger man asked him,

“What language was that?”

“Lapp”, Pale Wolf replied. “They speak it over the bodies of their reindeer, but I felt it was somewhat appropriate here.”

“Lapps? Like those people who live above the Artic Circle, Lapps?”

Pale Wolf nodded.


Back by the fire, after the meal, the circle take turns storytelling. Even Pale Wolf joined in. After that, the group settled down into their tents and Jager got an invite to the younger woman’s tent. They cuddled together for warmth and a quiet night’s sleep.

By morning, Pale Wolf was treated like an old friend of the family. No one gave him a second glance as he helped police the camp and prepare for the upcoming festivities. A few newcomers to the group felt it was a little odd, but as is so often in the human condition, something that is accepted by the majority is soon accepted by all. Pale Wolf joined the group as they gathered for the Opening Ceremony.

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The trucker gave Neil a farewell as he got out and began to hike up the road toward the Great Gathering. He hadn’t traveled more than a few hundred yards when an old Chevy pick-up truck came along and offered him a ride.

“Going to the Gathering, white man,” the driver, an ancient-looking Indian man joked.

“Yes sir,” Neil responded respectfully.

“Any particular reason?”

“Yes sir. I met Totem when he did the exhibition with the XWF. He invited me to come out, and I figured it would be interesting.”

The Ancient grew somewhat grimmer, if that were possible, at the mention of the fiasco that was the Exhibition match. He looked at Neil out of the corner of his eye for a few long seconds, and then there was a hint of recognition.

“You were there, outside the ring there at the end. Are you with the XWF?”

“No sir. God no! A few good people may be there, but the place looked like a madhouse to me. I’m a wandering doctor. My name is Neil Preston.”

Neil offered the ancient his hand, but he refused to take his hands off the wheel to do more than shift gears. After another long period of silence, the ancient nodded.

The journey passed in silence, with the ancient keeping his eyes on the poorly up kept road and Neil drank in the terrain as dawn approached.

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Templar's invisible form steps out from between a small grouping of trees and he makes his way carefully into the camp area.

His ever keen eyes scan the area to make sure that no one has spotted him, and as a matter of instinct he looks for any guards and the quickest exit should he need it...

Suddenly he becomes more aware of his thoughts and berates himself for the slip.

"I am no longer a soldier I must stop acting like it".

Continuing into the camp Templar starts to use his enhanced senses to track the Nova known as "Totem", for he is the reason that Winter's had decided to make this trip. He would watch this Nova secretly, in the hopes that he would be able to learn more about the meaning of what Novas are by how this one interacts with his own people and those that have merely come for the spectacle.

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Sakurako starts analysing herself... her feelings... her senses... Wondering why she hasn't fully let the scenery and the people sink in.

"I must be getting absorbed in my work again..."

Occasionally she does this, to keep an anchor in concious reality. If she thought too much, she slides into a sort of automatic state, one where all she does is what she planned on doing. Not unconciously, but more of in a state where rational, logical thought takes over emotion.

"I promised myself I'd have a little fun here, but all I'm doing is checking subsystems, and maintenance..."

She starts rummaging around her little dome, no bigger than a few garages. She put it up to store things like patching kits, spare merchant-tent sized domes, random equipment and tools, and a couple bins for personal belongings... She rummages through one of her bins, looking for her favorite laptop. A pink framed one with a kawaii style picture of her face on the back of the screen portion of the laptop.

"Ah, here it is... now I can post up on the OpNet what I'm seeing. Well, at least in text form... I don't want to take anyone's picture without permission."

She slings her laptop under an arm and walks out like a confident schoolgirl. She ehads for the main food tent, and starts picking up on other novas. She can't pick up on who, but she can pick up on where.

"Hrm, there's 2 outside the fairgrounds, one a level I've seen before... There are a few in the food tent, and a couple milling around the fairgrounds... Should be an interesting day today."

She walks in, and sees Totem and a few others gathering around. Sakurako decided to take care of her meal first before even making her presence known to the others.

So far, she's managed to keep from being spotted by the press, a feat she is still amazed she pulled off. Looks like whatever she's doing, she's been under the radar of the others too.

"I should go fishing... but I'm not sure the lake's legal for fishing. I can make a killer fish fry, but it'd take too much fish to feed this MANY people... Meh, I've had enough fish. All I seem to do these days is fish."

She grabs a few random things from the offered dishes. Not really minding the selection. She starts walking toward the forming group. Quietly and not trying to draw attention to herself.... *BONK!*

"Shoulda... watched... Totem's Tail..."

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He did his best to eat off the plates but most of the time he just leaned down and used his long dexterous tongue to snag the goodies. He could smell Regan before he saw her. Not many people smell like books and ink the way she did. His tail began to give away his happiness by snaking back and forth on the ground behind him. "Hello Regan! Sure you can join me." He looks a bit self conscious for a moment as if worried about people he knows watching him eat but seems to bury it. "Nice to meet you Franklin." He greets and picks up a bucket he has been using as a glass. "Oh the buffet line if over on that counter." He points across the room with one of his saber like talons.

As Regan and her new friend go to get plates Totem checks the time and then ponders. He knew about Regan's loss. He didn't talk to her about it because well, it wasn't his place and he didn't feel to comfortable about it. The truth though was he had been so self absorbed with meeting Apep and his training for the ceremony he wasn't there for someone who risked her life to stop him from killing who knows how many people. At least the silver eyed fellow seemed to be there for her. As he watched them at the counter he could tell there was something more there but he wasn't going to bring it up, once again. Not his place.

He thought about the others coming as he took a few more bites. So many of the Novas he had met in the past few months and others he had invited. It almost made him want to run. He felt like a fraud among them. Jager, Codex, Apep a litany of true Novas. Compared to them he felt like he was living a lie. Although all he had to do was look in a mirror to realize that he wasn't fooling himself. He knew others still would be coming, the ones he hadn't met. Violette 'V' D'Aronique, a woman he respected for letting her views be known even if it cost her her job. Great Monster C would be interesting to meet. Not everyday a living breathing Muppet comes to visit. He still hoped that Zed would drop in but maybe him and C might be overload when handled together. Ashnod scared him, he wondered if she could reach inside of him and pull out the scared little baseline inside the body of this Nova and do away with it. Then there was Juri..... Salamander. He didn't know what to think or do about her anymore. She did have fiery temper that matched her power. He had been putoff by her in the beginning but she always seemed to act differently to him. Like she.... He shook his head and the shiver went down his body ending in his tail as he ruffled up his feathers a bit. He dismissed the thought of her for the moment and went back to eating and rehearsing the dance in his mind.

Despite all the aromas filling the air and the smell of sweat and humanity in general he plucks Sakurako out of the air the moment she comes in. He knew she had been around for a day or two setting up her neat structures. She is playing it cool and trying to lay low and he let's her succeed until she has grabbed her plates of food and with a well place swipe she gets face full of Griffin tail. "Hiya Sakurako. Join us?"

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Elsewhere in a semi-secret aboveground lair/house deep in the heart of South County, Rhode Island...

"Jeeves, my helmet."

Jeeves sighs, "Neither my first nor my last name is Jeeves, sir." He hands Zed the New England Patriots football helmet.

Zed smiles, "Whatever you say, Alfred. Is my pack ready?"

Alfred opens his mouth to say something, but thinks better, "Here it is, sir."

"Okay, looks like I'm good to go." He opens the patio door and steps out into his back yard. A relatively normal backyard; barbecue pit, small vegetable garden, and a giant colorful cannon. Zed crawls down the barrel as Alfred/Jeeves uses a lever to tilt the barrel towards the sky. "Trajectory set?"

"Yes, sir."

"All right! Light the fuse and cover your ears!"

The fuse sparkles as the flame from the match catches it. The butler backs away from the rather large cannon as he covers his ears. As the sparkling fuse disappears into the cannon and deafening boom is released. Unfortunately, the living missile is not. The barrels is tilts back towards the earth as Zed slides out, black with burnt gunpowder. He releases a puff of smoke from his mouth.

"Shall I call Greyhound, sir?"

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"Sí, mamá ... Sí ... Catch you later ... Adiós, mamá."

Drifting on the winds a few hundred meters above the ground, April Rice pockets her cell and smiles to herself - her mother had been calling several times a day ever since she left for the reservation. Who knew parents could be so needy ...

Glancing around, April reorients herself - she has pretty much memorized the terrain between the pow-pow and her motel, so she didn't really need her GPS. Picking out a landmark, she gathers herself and shoots off in a sudden burst of acceleration. The ground below vanishes into tunnel vision as she gets up to speed, edging up towards the top of her range. This is about a fifteen minute flight - sometimes longer and sometimes shorter, depending on how hard she pushes. This morning, she feels like pushing hard.

I never really figured out just how fast I can go. Whatever it is, this must be pretty close - there's a weird vibration starting up ... It might not be a good idea to push much harder. Could be dangerous. But what the heck - let's see what happens ...

Mentally picturing herself gathering up spare energy for the last leg of a 100 yard dash, she kicks forward - punching through the resistance and precipitating a thunderous explosion of sound.

... Oh.

Slowing back below the speed of sound she comes to a slow drift - feeling slightly concussed and waiting for the ringing in her ears to stop.

I really hope that wasn't as loud as it sounded. I really, really hope ... Do smaller objects make a quieter sonic boom? ... Hey, there's the pow-pow. Personal record, I guess ...

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Sakurako is knocked unto her bum, her laptop landing next to her with it's impact cushions inflated. No harm done there. And while she managed to keep most of her food on her plate, and most of the plates on her tray, some of her meal is now on the ground.

She recovers a bit slowly from her encounter... Realizing that the food that did hit the ground decided to land on her hat which was knocked off her head. And it just had to be the more messier food... "bother... that'll take a little while to clean off. But, no disaster."

"I don't mind joining in, Totem, but if you wish to send an invite, make it RSVP, not RSV-TAIL. And you're lucky my laptop has airbags, or you'd have to pay for a 10 grand peice of hardware..."

She winks.

"Just kidding on the bill, the whole thing I built myself, but that's off topic. What's up, big guy?"

She takes her seat, and plops her now quite larger laptop on the table, next to her food tray.

"I see you've been eating well." The grin on her face is sheepish at best. She feels quite the klutz at the moment.

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Templar attempts to follow the tracks of Totem in an effort to find him, looking around camp for a starting point he suddenly got the feeling that it was probably useless.

Thinking to himself that this nova must be as hard to track as many others he has come across (including himself) he decides to change his strategy, and instead looks to track another nova who no doubt will lead him to Totem.

As he wanders the area ignoring the media spectacle surrounding him he finds some very interesting and incredibly graceful foot prints, knowing that these could not belong to that of a baseline he begins to follow them in the hopes that they will lead where he wants to go.

Though hard to follow there is little that can escape keen nova eyes and he slowly makes his way towards the mess tent, and as he approuches he finds more tracks, some less graceful and some more so.

"definetly not human" he thinks to himself as he enteres the tent feeling as though he is on the right track.

As he enters Templar makes sure to reinforce his invisiblity, to avoid detection by those within the confines of the tent. Levitating off of the ground slowly he uses his flying ability to drift to the upper reaches of the tent while he watches the novas within.

"I don't want to be bumped into" he muses to himself.

It doesn't take long for him to spot the young nova and begin watching.....

"this should be interesting"

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Regan smiles at Sakurako as she makes her way back to the table with plates full of food. "Hey honey," she says, setting down her plates on the table and sitting. "Help yourself if you guys want. I tend to eat for enjoyment these days instead of nourishment."

Regan selects a skewer of char-grilled buffalo and eats it delicately, with manners that wouldn't look out of place at the Queen's table. Her short blonde hair has been drawn into a bun held by an antique tortoiseshell comb, while more lines crease the corners of her sharp blue eyes. The long-sleeved rose blouse and ankle-length beige-patterned fawn skirt complete the image of the librarian she once was. She looks very different to the woman who stared down a scared gryphon and calmed him down.

"Julie would have loved to be here," she says quietly when she'd finished the skewer and wiped her mouth. "She was a bit of a fantasy buff like me, and the idea of meeting a real live gryphon would have been something she'd have loved. I'm sorry you two didn't get to meet like I was hoping to plan. I think you'd've liked each other."

She smiles at Sakurako again. "Thanks for the prayers you gave for her," she tells the pink-haired nova. "I'm sure Julie and your sister are having a good old chat in the Otherworld. Knowing Julie, she's probably teaching your little sister rude words in Mandarin Chinese." A brief, sad smile crosses Regan's face before she returns to her meal.

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Still shaking the ringing from her ears, April touches down on the outskirts of the celebration. Kicked up dust briefly delineates the lower hemisphere of her force field; then, the 'bubble' disintegrates with an audible pop. With the air of the site now washing over her unfiltered, April catches the scent of breakfast wafting from the meal shelter - reminding her that her motel's 'continental breakfast' was definitely not enough to feed a growing nova.

Looking for food, she wanders over to the tent - openly astonished at the massive media presence. Any who bother to look can tell that she's not human; not only does she possess the better-than-perfect grace and coordination common to many novas, but she also exudes a vaguely alien aura - marking her as somehow different. Aside from these traits, though, she appears quite normal: a young half-Chicano student - athletic, energetic, and fairly attractive.

Arriving at the meal tent, she moves easily through the breakfasting customers toward the serving tables. She peeks over the heads of the crowd around the food, and - showing of a bit for the omnipresent cameras - snags a tray and her breakfast telekinetically.

April is slightly edgy about joining the cluster of novas - she doesn't recognize half of them, and Totem is more than a little intimidating. Even so, she tries not to show it as she grabs her tray out of the air and approaches. Getting there, she throws a grin around and says, "Hey, Sakurako - everybody. Can I eat here?"

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Singularity gracefully sits down next to Codex after she's finished her story, carrying a place full of a wide variety of food. He begins eating his food with inhuman precision, carefully picking each piece. He nods to Sakurako and Totem, "It is good to meet both of you finally. I never thought I would have a chance to make it out to this part of the country."

As April approaches and asks to sit, he looks quietly, looking to Totem for the answer.

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Taking up three folders into her the crutch of her left arm, she was gone.She did not bother with picking up her tools, nor the drying prints around her.She was in the pavurbally blink of an eye standing on Totem's shoulder, but not. Her toes were on the shoulders, but no pressure was placed onto the brute.

"Child, I have three gifts for you, two of witch I do not know if you are ready for,one I hope you are.One of these folders contains Pictures of some of my tattoos,and a few art works I have done, that I hope you enjoy. Another file contains images that you may not be mature enough to look at, so I would ask that you show them to your grandfather, before looking at them.Lastly, one is a story based on real events about the modernizing of tribal cultures."

Her voice is utterly calm.It is sweet,calming and soft.Her went into people's cores,and seemed to let them understand that everything was alright.That today was a good day.Her eyes were closed the whole time.

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Sakurako starts to eat, after rummaging through a pocket for a handkerchief to wipe off her hat. Then Codex's words changed Sakurako's mood. Making her feel somewhat depressed. Thinking about the past...

She pushes some of her food around on her dish before eating some. Then April arrives.

"As long as there's open seats, I guess you can."

There isn't her usual energy to her words.

"Just stay clear of Totem's tail, it's being naughty." She tries to lighten both her mood, and the group's mood a bit.

"Mr. Alden, We're all priveledged to be here in one form or another..."

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“Life is for the learning, not for the teaching,” the Ancient suddenly said.

*Were in the hell did that come from* Neil thought.

“Aaaahhh … okay,” he replied. “But, what does that mean?”

Again, the Ancient paused in silence.

“Well, he knows enough to know he doesn’t know everything”, the Ancient spoke, but to no one in particular.

“Thank you, I think.”

The Ancient picked up a gnarled walking stick that had been sitting beside the stick-shift and smacked Neil upside his head.

“Don’t sass me, boy,” he added.


Another period of silence followed.

“So, are you going to tell me why you hit me?” Neil queried.

The Ancient reached for the stick again and Neil recoiled.

“See, you’ve learned something, boy.”

“Yes, I have. Don’t question men with knotted cudgels.”

“Humph,” the Ancient snorted, but he seemed pleased.

“So, don’t you fly or something?”

“Nope,” Neil replied. “I rely on the old feet to get me around.”

“What’s wrong with you? Are you broken, or just half baked?”


“With all you novas popping about, or flying around, shouldn’t you be able to do the same?”

“No sir. That isn’t how I see myself. I am a healer and a physician. If I need to get somewhere fast, I call someone who can do that.”

The Ancient nodded.

“If only my grandson understood that.”

Neil looked at the Ancient for a second.

“You’re Totem’s Grandfather?”

“Yep. No morning dew settling on this boy,” the Ancient spoke again to the void.

Then, “No. I am the grandfather to one of the other novas who live among us Ogala.”

Neil looked at the Ancient for a second.

“There is no good way to answer to that statement is there?”

“No, but there is a spark of growing up in figuring that, boy.”

More silence.

“So, why aren’t you already at the ceremony?”

“Something important was forgotten, and I had to go get it.”

“Oh? What was it, if I may ask?”

“Well, you already asked, so that’s a pretty stupid question, but I will answer it anyway. It is something no ceremony should be without. It is something ancient and mysterious that has been a part of the People’s traditions since before the white man darkened our horizons.”

“Sounds important.”

“Yes. The true name would be too much for your tongue to handle, but you know it as ‘Italian Ice’. Just another thing you people stole from us then claimed as your own.”

Neil looked at him for another second then said, “You’re full of shit, you know?”

The Ancient looked at Neil and let a smile crack through his weathered face.

“Hah! Sometimes, but even dung has its place. In the winter, it warms your lodge and in the summer it marks the way of the buffalo. Don’t go knocking shit, boy.”

“Yes sir.”

It was taking a bit of effort to judge the Ancient’s moods, but it was fun too. He almost regretted it when they finally arrived. He helped the Ancient unload his special cargo and soon discovered its mysterious, steeped-in-traditional purpose. Hoards of children swarmed up as the first cooler was unloaded.

Once they finished unloading, the Ancient reached down into the mud and scooped up some one on finger. He intoned ominous sounding words in Sioux then drew a mark horizontally under Neil’s right eye. A few of the children chucked; those who knew the language.

“Now, you have a proper Sioux name.”

“What is it?”

“Well … in its entirety, it means He who walks through Mud to help Children, but we can call you Mud Walker.”

“Mud Walker? Wow, thanks. Nothing wrong with old Mother Earth.”

Like lightning, the cudgel came up to smack Neil upside his head.

“The Earth is not your mother, Muddy, it is your Grandmother. Every Sioux knows that.”

Neil rubbed his head and nodded his understanding to the Ancient.

“I think I will go looking for your grandson, sir.”

The Ancient nodded and walked over to a group of gathering elders, regally ending Neil’s ‘audience’.

Neil wandered the camp a bit, getting an occasional barely-neutral stare, but many friendly looks and nods. Once or twice, someone recognized him as a nova and pointed him out to their companions, but that was rare.

Neil made his way over to the infirmary tent and made his hellos to the volunteers there. Here, he was a little more known and a whole lot more welcome. He also picked up a few extra bottles of water to distribute as he saw fit. If things went well today, the worst thing any of the aid-workers would have to worry about would be heatstroke and exhaustion.

From there, Neil began making his way over to Totem’s area. There was a gathering of novas in his presence, and he recognized a few novas he knew.

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Templar looms above the other novas, his super enhanced senses listening to the world around him, the reporters complaining about the lack of accommodations, the Sioux complaining quietly about the media all the while talking excitedly about Totem and the coming events.

But even while listening intently to the world around himself, Templar takes special care to keep track of the conversation between the newly arrived novas and Totem. The conversation seemed almost..... human.

Is this the way that novas acted around each other? Was there no difference between the humans and novas except fear and wondrous power? All ready this conversation was proving interesting, already he had learned much about these novas, and it seemed he felt comfortable listening to them. As he drank in their comradery like a sweet and long forgotten nectar he felt as though he should join them, but then he also knew that it was not quite time.... for now he must watch and wait.

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As Sakurako takes her seat Totem jokes. "Gotta eat to keep growing ya know." Codex spoke of Warlady and he listened intently. Grimacing he knew he should say something but just as he opened his beak a dark haired young lady arrives and gives him the excuse he needs to get out of the uncomfortable conversation. He looks at the dark haired girl a moment, his head tilting to the side like a curious dog. "Sure you can sit here if you tell me your name and say how much you like mythological animals."

Just as he is about to laugh at his own joking Totem's attention is drawn toward the top of the dome structure above the tables. His eyes narrow and his ears pivot like radar atop his head. He seems about to do something when a blue haired woman appears above him. He flinches visibly and the hair and feathers along his spine stand on end. As she gives her gifts to him he looks more bewildered and confused than anything. "Uhm thank you for this." He offers as he holds the folders in one hand.

Being a host is more than he expected suddenly. Here he was eating breakfast looking forward to another selfbrooding session and in five minutes he has five novas around him as well as something else, as his eyes look back toward the ceiling again. Did it mean that they actually liked him? He didn't crave friendship before he erupted like he is now. Maybe he is just looking for a lifeline to keep him afloat now. He knew he didn't want to end up being bitter and twisted by his condition like Char and Leviathan seemed to be with their own, but of course big warm, fluffy and majestic was easier for people to handle than cold, slimy and psychotic. Stupid Leviathan... Thought the young Griffin in his jealousy for Apep. Realizing he was growling to himself quietly because of his jealousy he snapped back from his drifting rant and rage to glance at the ticking clock. He only had ten more minutes to go before he had to leave and get ready and he couldnt be late. He could only imagine how it would look for Tina to come in here and drag him off by his ear.

He waved to Neil as he came in and muttered. "Six in Six minutes." He smiles and licks the maple syrup off a plate in front of him that had once had his flatcakes on it.

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Templar's keen eyes catch the griffon looking at him, he had heard about nova's that had the innate ability to know when they were being watched but it still took him by suprise.

Knowing that it would be highly unlikely for the nova to detect him, Templar decides to continue his watch... it seems that it would be prehaps the best course of action to take... it would be better if no one knew that this former elite were here.

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Silence was her anwser.She walked down a stairway of air.She made her way to the other person who held her interest.She moved in a calm,slow pase.It was immediately slow, it was just casual.She upon reach her target,placed hand on Neil's shoulder.If her walk was slow, her hand wasn't.It was at her side,then on Neil's shoulder,seemingly no where in the middle.Yet, when her hand touched, it was light,almost unfelt even.

"Preston,my good man.I wish I had something good to tell you, but I don't.I just know something bad is going to happen,and your father is going to hot and burnt off,on a Chernobyl scale."

She was smiling softly,the whole time.Her voice had hint of concern,but more of a heart warming tone.She was giving bad news,but she wasn't going to ruin the mood for everyone around her.

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Neil recoils from the stranger reaching for him. He seems confused by the woman, with the closed eyes coming his way, and not sure what to make of her.

After what he takes to be a hostile comment about his father, Neil's face clouds with anger. Blue Cherry yanks her hand away as an arch of bio-electric energy dances along his shoulder.

"Lady, what in the Blue Hell are you talking about, and why are you threatening my father?"

As his eyes narrow, he can be heard to mutter,

"Great. She has some sort of quantum cloak about her."

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"Threaten?I do say that offends me.I threaten no one. I hardly see the point.Warn? Yes. I happen to think your father does a good thing. Not, what I would do. Then again,I am doing my own work. It is rather enjoyable."

Taking a small step back,she was still smiling.Her face was pleasant enough to melt ice.

"If you are wondering why my eyes are closed.It is easier to move about the world with them that way.I have eyes that tend to star riots,and emotional break downs.If think you can understand the uncomfortable effect if the alternative is possible life long, or ending damage to some."

Raising her left eye brow,and smirking.

"Or we could see what you are truly feeling right now,along with those near by..I do warn you, most people aren't ready for their true emotions."

Her voice was jovial. Her body stance was passive,and relaxed.

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1500 miles away, CT Preston was finishing up the evening reports and dismissing the last of the night shift. The whole department was working to make the month the best on record for cases closed, and he felt a swell of pride at their efforts.

He rubbed his right forearm were a rather horrific bruise still lingered. For all intentions, it felt like his arm had been severed just below the elbow, which, in the varying probabilities he was dealing with, it had been ... sort of.

Another crime of passion ... another perp grabbed trying to hijack a car out of town ... and another series of lives wasted, or damaged.

Sometimes, when Preston stepped back, he could 'feel' beyond the critical moment and see into the lives that had come before it. The happiness, the tender moments, and the shared intimancies. Bad times, aplenty, too. The crime hadn't come out of the blue, not really. In hindsight, the domestic murder was all to obvious for him ... as usual.

Preston made a final notation to Domestic Services about the case and dealing with the young boy who had seen his mother murdered before his eyes. Tough thing for a four-year old, but his psycologist would have a solid idea what she would be dealing with, at least.

Time to get back to his own life. He looked over to Selena.

"Ready to go?" she asked, sleepily. Like Preston, she had been "on" for eight days straight.

"You can come along, you know? Neil would like to see you, too."

"Yes, I'm sure he would," she purred, much to Preston's consternation, "but I don't want to interfere with your quality father-son time."

Preston nodded to that. Then, he felt the familiar presence of her in his mind, as the jointly plotted out the opening to the Gathering.

Reality rippled and Preston stepped into early Dakota morning.

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Franklin slowly sets down his fork, silver eyes flashing between Codex, Cherry, Neil, and Totem. His stoic face hides his own internal surprise at the conflict; after all, this is the most novas he's met in a group at the same time in a few years and already it is starting to feel like old times. If only his appetite hadn't kept him from getting to know the others before the verbal sparing began...

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Sakurako hates moments like this. She was going to say something to Codex, when the commotion occurred and she lost her train of thought.

"Bloody hell, I get a node and I still can't keep my thoughts straight..."

She looks at Blue for a second, then returns to her meal.

"Mister Alden... What do you prefer to be called? I find that one should refer to using "Mister" or "Miss" only in business. In friendly conversation I prefer more... loose protocol... And Codex, I am sure that my Sister is enjoying the company."

Sakurako feels incredibly awkward at the moment. Waiting for such a time like this to speak. But Sakurako has never been one to have good timing.

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Singularity turns Sakurako with a friendly smile, "Plesae, call me Franklin. And I agree regarding that kind of formality, it does make things rather uncomfortable." He briefly looks up, indicating the structure, before dividing his attention back to Sakurako and the others, "And I must say I'm impressed with your work. I am glad I got a chance to see it up close."

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