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[Fiction] Assembly - Day One

Ulysses Bailey

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The temptation existed for Machina to go whole hog and take one of his fabulous new (or old) toys to Ulysses' meeting in the Alps. He had ATNRVs (All-Terrain...No, Really Vehicle), amphibious helicopters and if he felt like scaling back a piece and making a grand entrance, a one-man ultralight derigible he inherited from a relative and adapted to modern specs.

The only other time he'd been in Switzerland, he'd been chasing an illegal arms dealer formerly of Spetznas through the underworld. Six weeks undercover as a smack dealer, and not once did he have a good night's sleep. Finally coming back, he had hoped for some sightseeing, a little fanfare. But he supposed not arriving in the passenger seat of a 1989 Saab 900 with more bumper stickers than functioning parts and a suitcause full of government-supplied narcotics would have to do.

Machina consulted his wallet and decided on an economy fare ticket to Bern and a series of cab rides, instead.

The morning of his flight's departure, he checked his suitcase again to make sure he had everything he felt he might need: a few changes of clothes, a winter parka, some maps, a set of custom tools, some condoms (There's no way that shylock ponce invited Alinsky, but a man can hope) and a folder conspicuously marked 'PROJECTS' in scrawled black sharpie.

He lit another Lucky Strike, locked up the former tower behind him and caught a cab to JFK, where he was spared the indignity of being recognized as anything other than a surly baseline. His sidearm didn't make any of the detectors flinch, not surprisingly. On the plane, he read a half dozen novels and reviewed two technical manuals he'd recently written. He wrote the secret of life on a coctail napkin and left it stuffed in the pocket on the back of the seat in front of him. Then he fell asleep, dreamed of his favorite pornographic film and snored so loudly the timid businessman in the adjacent seat nearly woke him (after deliberating on the matter for hours, he decided that the potential repricussions of waking the savage in seat 34B wasn't worth it).

A whirlwind of cab rides and bad food lead Machina spiraling upward to a mountain lodge, where he was tersely escorted to a room where he found a few toys and trinkets he didn't want or need.

Machina smoked thirty-five cigarettes, beat off twice, ordered charbroiled meat weighing no less than five pounds and drank thirty ounces of Jack Daniel's that did little more than leave the stink of whiskey on his lips.

Somewhere in Switzerland, a United Airways employee by the name of Bjorne Gudmansdottir was cleaning out a 747 that had recently landed. He found a wadded up tissue folded between the in-flight magazines on the back of seat 33B and threw it away without thinking on the matter.

The world kept turning.


The artificial voice of the Swiss train station's public address system calmly and politely announces immanent departures and recent arrivals. Looping and updating, it repeats itself in five languages, four of which are understood by the disheveled blond American stepping off of an morning train in from Bern. Stretching easily, he slings a light backpack over his shoulder and sets off down the sheltered platform, blending seamlessly into the Brownian motion of the station's crowds.

Alex Craft is casually dressed in loose bleached jeans and a heavily worn blue T-shirt (ironically emblazoned with the stylized 'S' of a nearly forgotten hero - all hope and primary colors), and he totes a light backpack as his sole luggage. A casual observer would discount Alex as a student taking some time off to wander Europe, and he uses that - tweaking the patterns of the place to insure that nobody is anything other than a casual observer. He doesn't really expect hostile eyes, but protects himself out of the basic, ingrained reflexes of one who might, with care, live forever.

* * *

An couple of hours later, Alex is pulling into the carport of a secluded lodge in the Alps. The car's GPS map stopping being useful as soon as he rolled off the main roads, but that's ok - Bailey gave good directions, leading Alex along winding mountain trails through some of the most undisturbed land in Switzerland.

Now, Alex unfolds his lanky frame from out of the small sedan, stepping away from the building to take a longer look at the dramatic scenery visible from the mountainside lodge. He breathes deep, luxuriating in the scent and taste of clean mountain air (though even here, he can taste the tang of hydrocarbons on the breeze). His breath hangs in clouds as he exhales, and he leaves footprints in a thin dusting of granular snow.

He stands for a bit and doesn't seem to feel the cold - he just waits, relaxing into the clean silence. After a few minutes, one of Bailey's baseline staffers emerges diffidently, asking if Alex would care to be shown to his room. After a moment's consideration, Alex allows that he would.

* * *

Alex thumbs through the material made available in his room, but ends up going to the meeting empty-handed, having committed Bailey's precedent studies to memory. After puttering about the lodge for a while, he makes a point of wandering over to the conference room well in advance of the announced time to convene.

Reaching the room, he slips in through the gently creaking doors and grins genially to anyone who beat him to the meeting.


"Ah, the Alps. I've never been here, you know."

The words were spoken by the young blonde woman who just stepped out of a conveniently opened Gideon Bible with a silver-haired young man's arms around her waist. Golden-brown wings flap once impatiently, scattering loose feathers all over the room as she disengages from his embrace and strides springily over to the wide bed, on which two welcome kits waited.

"Hmm, notetaking equipment and research archives... Love, help yourself to this, my personal W.A.Co. is better suited for me... Cod liver oil... Jesus, that stuff is awful, but good for the feathers... At least he included the wide bed. You, me and wings are not made for tight quarters..."

"I do not know. You did not mind the shower last night," retorts the silver-haired man as he examines his own welcome kit. He finds an old, nondescript book that has him smiling and chuckling quietly while the winged blonde gives him a strange glance.

"That shower is as big as a walk-in closet," she points out dryly, eyes flicking to the book. "If that's a book of dirty poetry, my name had better be written all over it."

"No, it is a compilation of Jefferson's works," he assures her, wrapping an arm around her waist and pulling her close for a quick kiss on the crown of her head.

"I believe you," she says meekly before casting a pointed glance at the book when his back is turned. With a satisfied nod, she turns back to the book she came in by. "I'll just go get our luggage."

A few minutes later, she returns with two suitcases. She unpacks a variety of women's clothing and various toiletries from one and a selection of books from the other. "I'll need a break from all this legal stuff," she explains with a sheepish grin. "And as much as I love you, I'm so noisy in bed that we'll piss off the neighbours for sure if we're acting like bunnies."

"That is true," the man admits with a slight smile. "Not that we do not enjoy it, Regan."

"Franklin..." Regan says in a warning tone. "Big nova meeting, remember? No teasing me."

Franklin grins to her boyishly - he only seemed to lighten up around her - and helps her stack the books in the small bookshelf provided. If she wants more, she can go fetch more.

Regan calmly unbuckles her knee-brace and changes from a black halter-top and leggings to a more formal backless black silk dress with slits on both sides. She combs her hair over her shoulders and breasts and puts her knee-brace back on, giving it a disgusted glance. As usual these days, she is barefoot.

Franklin is wearing his white eufiber as always. "Ready?" he asks, offering his arm.

"Of course," Regan replies as they leave the suite and head for the conference room. They reach the double oak doors and enter.


Sakurako looks over her surroundings. She just parked her private jet on steroids, the Hokuto, in a flat clearing near the meeting site. The valley she's in is small, and mostly grassland, smack dab between two large mountain clusters and many hills. Sakurako knows she's in a bad spot for snooping sattelites, so with a thought, the skin of the ship starta to make a camoflauge pattern matching the grass below. Only someone who was looking for it on the ground could spot it.

As she grabs a large backpack, with a few changes of clothes, she sets the temperature regulators on her flight suit, to warm her for the fall/winter climate of Switzerland. She then grabs a portable computer and heads out the back cargo bay door out into a brilliant mid-morning.

Sakurako decides to hike it to the old lodge as best she can before having to fly up the last bit. After all, the scenery to her is gorgeous. As she plods through the medium grasses of the hill her plane is parked on, then the sylvan woods at the foot of the lodge's mountain, she notices no one is around. This makes her less concious of her pink and white flight suit. Of course, with proper fast-talking, people could believe it to be a fancy, well insulated and padded skiing outfit.

When she reaches the foot of the mountain, the lodge in perfect view, she decides to finally fly the last kilometer or so. At first she follows the pine forests lining the craggy passes, then making a straight line for the lodge, after enjoying a couple more moments at a high altitude.

The lodge itself looks over the very hill she initially landed.

"Well, at least I can watch my ride while I'm here. I'd hate to fly myself back the hard way..."

She hovers down to the front enterance. The imposing wooden doors carved with twin-stags, carved in stark relief, facing eachother. As she walks up to the door, she knocks politely.


There is no answer. But, the door is unlocked.

"Well, at least I knocked, and I am expected."

She pushes the door open, after taking her pressure helmet off, holding it under her free arm. She wouldn't want to hide her face, after all.

The front foyer is of a typical hunter's lodge mixed with stuffed animals, paintings, and finely chosen and varnished wood panel walls. As she heads to the main staircase, an elderly man of 60 years roughly approaches.

"Miss Hino, I hope your journey was an uneventful one. Your room is on the second floor in the west wing."

She turns and makes a slight bow, out of habit.

"Thank you, sir. May I inquire as to what your name is?"

"There will be time for introductions. I must attend to other arrivals. I am sorry to have sounded rude but It's the master's orders."

The thought... Master's orders... Does her host own this place?

She starts to make her way up the stairs. The stairs carpeted in a fine and soft red material. As she turns to her left, she starts walking along untill she reaches the alcove for a hallway. She turns into it, knowing the west wing to the lodge was this way, only to be amazed.

The west wing is a section of the lodge located on another close-by mountain, bridged by a windowed hallway connecting the west wing to the central lodge. She walks across with wonder that she hasn't felt in a while. looking to her left and right, at the small river running down below some 800 feet under her and the walkway.

She can feel the stone as her feet step unto the floor. Perhaps at one time this was a stone bridge, and whoever built this lodge decided to make this a sheltered walkway.

When she finally enters the west wing, the design of it's walls match the main foyer. A dark brown wood, varnished to perfection, and many doors lining the left side of the hall, as the hall itself follows the gentile curve of the mountain to her left.

"Number 6... That's my room."

She was told by Mr. Bailey that Room 6 would be where she would be staying the course of this meeting. She notices the double doors for each room. When she presses the hard oak doors open, the doors open to a large room... no... hall. Her suite is generous indeed. Paneled with the same wood the rest of what she has seen of the lodge.

As she walks over into the center of her room, she notices her bed. A large bed with tall posts, supporting an overhead top, sporting lowerable shades. The dressers nearby are hardwood, and well crafted with deep, curving reliefs on the front, with brilliant and well polished brass handles.

She sets her backpack down on the bed and walks over to the dresser. On top is a small com-tablet, capable of using several different chip formats, a large chip lays next to it, and a note. Beside that, wrapped with a gold string around the center, is a couple boxes of pocky, sitting in the center of a plate with assorted fruits.

The mirror on the wall is well crafted too, it seems to capture every detail of the room in a perfect reflection. She turns to the windows, and opens the shades.

The view takes her aback for a moment or two. She had never seen such vistas untill now, and this is more than what she imagined.

After staring for a few minutes, she finally returns to her bed, slowly undoing buckles and connectors to her suit. As she does, her suit makes a soft hiss, letting out air, and powering down with a soft hum. She takes off the suit and lays it on her bed, still hissing and flattening, as the air used for the insulation vents out.

She then starts pulling her things out from the bag. A well tailored business suit, some incidental clothes, and a custom-made ball-gown. Then she pulls out a large canteen with her favorite juice, and a small box with her favorite snacks and a well made pair of shoes that could be used for business, casual, or formal affairs.

She then smiles, remembering in a locked and hidden compartment at the bottom is her "equalizer". A pink handled gun resembling a .44 calibur pistol. It's her stun-weapon. She pulls it out.

Deciding that since the first meetings would be shortly, she decided to put on her business suit. First, she puts on a white blouse with a black tie, then a dark navy blue skirt, whose hem-line falls mid-shin. She then takes a holser out of the same hidden compartment, and straps it around her chest, then puts her pistol inside it.

She then puts on the jacket of the outfit, a matching navy blue blazer, with gold/brass colored buttons along the cuffs and on the front. Sporting her favorite fashion statement, a sailor collar, around the neck, no stripes or anything fancy though.

She then puts on white stockings, that go up past the knee, well under her skirt, and then puts on her patent-black shoes.

She checks her watch, while flicking from her face a lock of her trademark pink hair. Sitting on the edge of her bed.

"30 minutes... I should head to the meeting room."

She walks to the main meeting-hall where all of the more important discussions will take place, located back in the centeral part of the lodge. She walks back, re-tracing her old path, but not before grabbing the notepad sized computer, and her portable before leaving her room.

She eventually makes it to the head of the stairs in the central foyer, and notices the meeting room's doors, carved with the same double-stag design. She walks up to the doors, and adjusts her blazer with a gentle but noticable tug.

Then the same old butler clears his throat behind her.

"Ma'am, there will be no need for that sidearm. I will keep an eye on it untill the meeting is over..."

Sakurako realizes that the holster, while under her blazer is not well hidden. She opens her blazer and unbuckles the holster and hands the holstered gun to the butler.

"My apologies. Just looking after my safety."

He just nods, and leaves before she can say anything else.

"Well, Sakurako... Things should get interesting from here on out."

After taking a breath, and re-buttoning her blazer, She opens the doors, not really knowing what awaits her.


Some things, ronin noted, were better done the old-fashioned way. And on a day like today, with a crisp breeze whistling through the azure sky above and the verdant ground yielding beneath his feet, he figured that for today, at least, climbing the Alps was one of them.

He had started his walk at the summit of Monte Rosa, called 'Dufourspitze', the peak the separates Italy from Switzerland, in the Pennine Alps. He had been walking for a good length of time, and have covered more ground than any hiker had any business covering. He bundled himself in furs and skins, an unnecessary but somehow appropriate gesture that engendered a sort of cautious respect out of him for reasons he couldn't guess.

He hadn't encountered any other novas on the way in, and gave passing though to question whether that fact was chance or if he hadn't just somehow missed someone's presence. He wasn't being watched, he knew that much.

Reaching the cabin at early noon, an accomplished sigh escaped his unbreathing lips, and he hung his snowy skins on a post outside before tromping the snow from his shoes and walking into the lodge Ulysses had described to him. Not wanting to be recognized too early, he shook his head slightly, and by the time he walked in, nobody, baseline or nova, seemed to care to take notice of him.

At the desk, he had to fight for the attention of the baseline consierge, who finally regarded him with dry unenthusiasm and asked him exactly what she wanted, seemingly oblivious to her guest's greater nature. Quietly, calmly, ronin told the woman he was a guest of Mr. Bailey, claimed his key after pointing out his name in the ledger, and shuffled anonymously upstairs to await the evening's events.

In his room, he found the package, a small metal briefcase containing a digital writing pad and small OpNet database, with a brief but friendly letter written by Mr. Bailey, expressing his gratitude for ronin's having come and so on. ronin closed the case and slid it towards the pillows of the bed he wouldn't be using, moved the television he wouldn't be using into the closet he wouldn't be using and spread out a series of loose papers kept in a tube he had attached to the sling on his back. Without so much as looking up, he reached into a closed that wasn't his and pulled forth a katana blade, chronologically ancient and no more worn than the day it was forged. Brief flashes of thought crossed his consciousness as he went about scrawling all over the yellowed pages, and with his absent hand he would reach into a Lord & Taylor in Sandusky and pull out a new tie, a Brooks Brothers in Karachi for a pair of slacks, an Armani shop in New York City produced a clean white shirt and a pair of black suspenders, a small shoe shop long since out of business in Austin found him with a new pair of polished size 13 wingtips, and a drugstore in Paris provided him with a simple but utilitarian black eyepatch, all of which he systematically threw onto the bed he wouldn't be sleeping on as he yanked it forth from all over the world, scribbling and humming and hawing over his paperwork all the while.

When he was finished, he rolled the pages back up, stuffed them back into his tube, dorm'ed down and went to the bathroom to shower in blistering hot water and shave with the straight razor he brought in his pocket. Afterwards, he got dressed with the purloined and foreign clothes, attached the sword to his side and walked downstairs, meeting the immense oak doors that would open to the board room.

He hoped nobody would die.


A water-like portal appears at the top of a mountain and two bundled up figures step out of it, carrying bags and skiboards. With silent nods to each other, they strap in and start down the mountain, lazily making their way and reading the bottom a half an hour later. Once they reach the grass within sight of the lodge, the man and woman remove their boards and make their way to the building.

As they enter, the skiboard toting man introduces himself to the lone man at a desk near the entrance, “My name is…”

The well-dressed man behind the desk interrupts with a smile, “Captain Preston and Lieutenant Ramirez, we’ve been expecting you. I have your room key here and I believe Mr. Bailey’s first meeting should be starting soon. The staff will be out of your way but available if you require anything.”

Preston smiles subtly to himself at the expected exchange, takes the key with a brief “Thank you,” and leads Selena to their rooms. When they reach the suite, Selena deposits her bags in her room before ducking back out on silent feet while Preston begins to unpack. Within moments, a satellite feed is running, providing him with constant information.

Slipping on an earpiece and HUD monocle set to use the link, Preston leaves the room using the directions provided in his welcome package. In a few minutes he reaches a set of wooden double doors, Selena waiting next to them with an agitated look on her face. With a flick of her wrist, she opens the doors and they venture into the room.


David Smith (aka Doctor Troll) flew in by airplane to the airport and then hired a car and a driver. He could have 'leapt' to the meeting, or maybe called in a favor for a more 'nova' type entry, but he felt using baseline transportation sent a subtle but potent message. It also avoided the risk of damaging his surroundings, and he could enjoy the view.

The car stopped and Dave got out, inhaled deeply and took a small bag. Without clothes there really wasn't all that much to take. For this gathering his eufiber was configured into a suit coat and power tie, he had copied it from some CEO in a magazine. As always in social gatherings, Dave intended to stay in his 'human' guise... and as always he could hear the siren call of his Troll form.

After dropping his bag off in his room Dave headed for the conference room. Walking through the double doors he pauses and looks around to see who is there and who isn't. He has crossed swords on this issue several times on the 'net, this should be interesting. If he was very lucky, they might even accomplish something.


Once the first guest arrives, Jager shows up at Bailey's side rather suddenly and smiles. "Showtime," he whispers and apparently disappears.


Bailey smiles from his chair as each participant entered the room. The room is large with oak paneled walls, well lit, and no noticeable windows. Dominating the room is a large, round table with eight plush chairs surrounding it with extras on the wall. Bailey has already taken his seat across from the door, the space before him taken up by a pad of paper and a cup of a hot liquid. Behind him stands Lotus Infinite and Jager, both appearing alert and interested with their surroundings. From Bailey’s left the table begins to fill up. A cloud of cigarette smoke surrounds Machina’s immediate area as he settles in, hard liquor already set out before him. Alex Craft relaxes back into his seat, casting a nod of recognition at Preston and an interested look toward Regan - passively observing her newest look. Regan herself is next, her seat specially modified for her wings and a silent Singularity stands behind his tense charge. Sakurako then ronin come next, coincidence placing them together at the table. Preston sits forward in his chair, relaxed and bright-eyed behind his monocle HUD while Selena appears to watch with a bored look on her face, occasionally studying the other novas with aroused eyes when they’re not looking. Finally, Dr. Smith finishes the circle, alert and ready to discuss.

Jager looks neither bored, or tense. Instead, he appears disarming and interesting in what is going on around him. He does not talk unless addressed. Ulysses feels that Jager 'lets' people see him, to put them at ease, instead of slinking about unseen, which seems to be his second nature.

With everyone seated and in place, Bailey addresses the room, “Thank you everyone for coming. It means a lot to me that all of you have taken the time to come here, especially without knowing specifically who was going to be here or what exactly was going to happen. As I told all of you, I hope all of us can come together to create some kind of unified set of ideas, theories, or rules that apply to all novas, be it in a separatist society or within the pre-existing governments. One condition that needs to be established is for the purpose of this discussion novas will be considered to be something different than baselines. I understand some people believe novas are humans, but sometimes in the law we need to divide the general public up into different classifications and have rules that specifically apply to them. After all, blindness can make driving dangerous or trained soldier poses a greater threat to others than an average layman. Hence, here we’re talking about laws that apply solely to novas, giving us something we can all talk about on the same level.

He motions briefly to the novas behind them, “Lotus Infinite and Jager are here as a safety measure and to contribute if they wish. While I don’t think any of you will do anything hostile, my occupation has taught me to plan for everything, including the unlikely and the impossible. And the limited staff of this lodge is at our disposal; however they have standing orders to stay out of our way. I expect this to take at least two sessions and I’ve made sure enough food and services will be provided for all.

“Now, onto the issue at hand. Each one of you has either expressed concerns or opinions on how laws, governments, and societies apply to novas or have shown keen, critical minds that are well-suited for trying to create some guidelines for novas for existing societies or soon-to-be-made societies. So for us to start, we should first cover what makes a nova and what inherent rights a nova has.

“As Doctors Smith and Craft can attest to, an active node which can suit for a working definition for ‘what makes a nova’ for the time being. So the next question is, ‘What inherent and inalienable rights do novas have?’ In regards to history and baselines, very few cultures codified what rights were universal to all humans independent or race or social standing. Ancient Rome laid out rights and privileges for plebeians, patricians, and slaves, the Magna Carta gave English nobles a set of rights against the king, and other cultures share their own set of enumerated rights. However, Thomas Jefferson and the Founding Fathers of the United States seem to be the first to clearly set out universal rights for all humans. Particularly, they stated, “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. In the two-hundred plus years after that statement, the idea of universal rights has become a standard across the world. The European Union’s Constitution lists an incredibly long list of rights for its citizens, I feel the true elegance and foresight of Jefferson’s words (as emphasized by myself before) gives us a better place to start.

“It seems apparent that all novas have the right to life and to be free from any unjust control by others. But like Jefferson said, those are only some of the rights all humans have and there’s more, hence more may exist for novas. So I pose the first question to all of you: do novas have any inalienable rights and what are they?”

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"I would argue against inalienable rights for novas. Such an acceptance seems too caught up in the rights of sentiants, thus too much for we as a whole to swallow," starts Preston.

"Furthermore, I don't see novas, as a seperate entity, willing to accept anything more than the power of might/ability. We do not have the social traditions that allow us to assume even the most basic rights. Until we create that foundation, it would be counter-productive to assume that we all would respect each other's rights to live, much less pursue our idealized livelyhood. Nor do we respect absolute principle of individual liberty for one another."

"I do not see us having a racial, or societal empathy for one another. Without a conception that we can perserve our own wants and desires by protecting and perserving the rights of our fellows, there is no basis of society."

"There is no level of rapport, or co-dependence. There is not basis for us to even concieve novas as a race."

"How is that for a start?"

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“As Doctors Smith and Craft can attest to, an active node which can suit for a working definition for "what makes a nova' for the time being....
Doc nods at this.
Preston: "...How is that for a start?"
Doc says with a smile, "Grim. Very Grim. That's the old, "Might Makes Right" arguement made flesh."

"Nor do I think that's entirely true. What I think has been happening is we are developing several societies."
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"Then the question is, David, what sort of code Novas should have? Something that all of the diaspora of Novakind can relate and accept?" She then turns to Preston.

"Preston, your assumption assumes we are not seperate from Humankind. Mr. Bailey asked us to assume otherwise for the topic of this forum."

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Still leaning back from the table, Alex flags a hand and interjects, "I don't think he is assuming that, Sakurako. It seems he's saying that while we are different from humanity, that doesn't mean that we're unified."

"Personally, I'm inclined to agree. Look at us - each and every one different in body and, to some degree, mind. We are all departures from a common point: humanity. Ironically, while we are not human, the human characteristics we retain are the only commonality we have. Right now, whenever we attempt to find common ground, it will necessarily have to be phrased as part of the human experience."

"Thing is, that can't last. Being a nova is an autoevolutionary experience. We change ourselves constantly, and every change brings us further from that common point of humanity. With that commonality disintegrating, any social order we've established will be sure to follow."

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"Hrm. I did misunderstand his point." Sakurako nods sheepishly. "My apologies."

"But then, to get back on track with your point, Alex, what's wrong with trying? If we create a set protocol on how we live our lives and endeavor to create a society of law and order, shouldn't that provide some foundation to the future? I for one think there's a chance."

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Regan shifts on her stool, feral blue eyes glancing around the room. "I prefer to live by the Wiccan code of 'Do as thou wilt, an it harm none'," she answers. "My days of living my life according to baseline opinions are over."

She taps the desk with one of her fingers. "I think that we, as novas, should have the right to pursue our own paths so long as we don't hurt anyone else, baseline or nova, without due provocation."

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Preston smiles warmly at the interchanges.

"Doctor Smith, might makes right is the most basic of social rules. It is the foundation of all others. After all, the armed forces and the police carry weapons for a reason. In a democratic society, it is merely that they are given the might by their constituencies."

"Besides, we have the examples already set by Ceastus Pax, Divis Mal, and the entire Elite trade."

"Now, I am not here advocating jungle rule. I am bringing it up because it needs to be brought up and examined."

"I do tend to follow Doctor Craft's assessment about the fact that it may be a mistake to see novas in context of being a race ... a subspecies, if you will."

"Now, that doesn't mean we can't work together, but it does mean we will have to toss out most accepted models of societal behavior and custom."

"It is also my belief that it is our baseline backgrounds that are our greatest weakness."

He pauses to let that sink in.

"See, my societal background pre-disposes me to be a part of that society, no matter what I am. I was raised a certain way, made baseline choices based on a baseline's game plan, and adapted that to my new condition as a nova. I am a societal postitive model."

"Now, I see other people who are somehow removed/divorced from society in some way. They see society as a negative. It is not merely the condition of being alientated, or those who drift into becoming outsiders. It also has to do with people who never learn to think of themselves as connected to a larger social unit. Be they leaders, or rebels, they carry that negative baggage into their nova status."

"This positive/negative condition doesn't even give us the luxury of starting from a clean slate. It is something else we have to be capable of dealing with."

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"Then perhaps, Preston, we should think more about our children and the world they will have to live in. That's what we're here for today."

Sakurako nervously straightens her blazer.

"Mr. Bailey brought up the point of the American Revolution and it's founding fathers. Quite frankly, history is repeating itself now. Not to take any sort of egotistical standpoint, but that is the gravity of our purpose here. You see, one isn't truely free untill they are unafraid someone isn't going to stick them with a box-cutter just to get their brand-new shoes. Civilized societies create laws and rules. there's no way around it unless you live on an individual ethical balance. One which proves faulty if such a moral compass is against what those would consider 'the right way of doing things'. Perhaps Saimhe brings up the greatest way of saying what a law should state. Do as you will, if it harms none."

She clears her throat.

"But, and I don't know if anyone here likes to split hairs this far, we tend to, even unintentionally, harm something. Perhaps not only should laws that we create provide the protocols of life, but protect us from those that would believe we did them wrong when no negligence or ill will came into play. In other words, to provide protection for innocent mistakes."

"And I do pity those in the negative side, Preston. When one stops thinking for themselves, they are truely lost in the world. To live withought an aim is indeed something not worth living."

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When the two women step through the crimson ring, it is obvious that they haven't broken stride from where ever it was they began their walk. Almost in military cadence, perfect step and perfect meter, each footfall that of precision and longevity.

The first woman is dressed entirely in black. Black pumps, black skirt which comes down just four inches below her knees, black long-sleeve princess-cut blouse, black chopsticks holding most of her mostly black hair in a neat bun (two long locks of it spill out from behind her ears to flow over her shoulders), and a black onyx pendant hanging by a black leather thread hanging from her throat. The black stockings she wears has no chance of hiding the forking, red bolt of energy that lances down her thigh, calf, ankle and foot. She leaves tracers flowing behind her as she moves.

The second woman is a direct contrast; she wears nothing but white. White mini-boots, white slacks, and a white tank-top barely visible under a long white jacket. Her hair, fittingly, is blonde and flows freely in light waves. Perhaps, in another possible world, she might emit blue, electrical light in the same manner her companion currently does red, and make this yin-yang comparison complete, but this is not that world, and nothing so flashy is seen upon her.

Entrances, it has been said, are the specialty of the one clothed in black. Overly-dramatic, calculated-for-maximum-effect, and quantum-diva have also been used to describe her tendency of demanding one's attention when she arrives, well, anywhere. This cannot be said of her companion, who has made an effort to be underneath the public's radar since her departure from the well-known largest employer of homo sapiens novus. Regardless, her presence adds something to this entrance, something that perhaps will be examined closer in retrospect. For now, in the present, it is an attractive mystery to yet another of the dark one's introductions.

It would be even more fitting if they were to push the doors to the meeting hall open themselves. A few steps further, and they would have had that honor. Had Jager not been on the other side of the door, this entrance would have been more of a spectacle than it already is. But also in retrospect, one might consider if this entrance itself was the better of the two. Jager, perhaps hearing their footsteps on the other side of the thick wood, perhaps sensing the quantum radiating from them, or perhaps even some means only he knows of, (he would not say later how he knew, only that he did), is at the door at the exact moment he needed to be to open it for them. But that's, again, in retrospect.

Ashnod and Violette D'Aronique stride (again, without breaking pace) into the room as Jager opens the door, the former nodding respectfully and graciously to him. The two of them move around the table silently, one leaving the familiar trail of red energy hanging in the air, saying nothing as they find empty chairs along the wall near the back and sit. Neither makes an effort to pull her chair to the table.

After they are both seated, Ashnod says, "Apologies to you all for being late. There is no need to review anything which has been already said. Please continue as through we have always been here."

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"Ashnod, Ms. D'Aronique, thank you for attending," Bailey says with a nod to the tardy participants. "Please, feel free to join us at the table and there are rooms available if didn't settle in before coming in."

Turning back to the table, he raises his hand with a disarming look on his face, "I think we're getting bogged down and ahead of ourselves, which is partially my fault with such an unclear question. While it's good for us to get the conflict over a nova-only society and separatism out of our systems, it's an issue we can't resolve here nor is it why I brought everyone together.

"Law, in some ways, is a written set of rules for only part of a society. Most can be exchanged between different societies and often are. Unlike the anarchist that concern Captain Preston, each person here at some point has expressed interest in some sort of societial connection for novas. Just being in this room would be a conflict of interest for someone who wanted to avoid society forever. Hence, discussing natural law, something that is superceded by societies and their unseen methods of regulation, is moot. The point is discussing the unique ways all novas interact with society and their regulation - with law.

"I started with unalienable rights because they are the foundation of society's rules. The law enhances and secures the rights, the freedoms of the people subject to them. Hence, why I asked if everyone here agrees that every nova shares the basic right to life and freedom from slavery (violation of societal laws notwithstanding). The types of rights the police protect, as Captian Preston can confirm, and the types I assert for my clients.

"So, I reprise my question: is it wrong for us to believe we have the simple right to life? The right to liberty? How about the right to privacy, is it wrong for me to have the right to go through life with the expectation that someone won't invade my mind?"

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Machina, making no obvious attempt to quell the percolating rage he felt from the moment Regan (or was it Endeavor?) started talking, was about to open his rye-stinking lips when the women in white and black strode coolly into the board room (like they owned the fucking place, were one to ask the man himself). His brow creased into a Neandrethalan furrow as his tirade of venom was cut off by the theatrics of dames in ebony and ivory, and he glowered at them with malicious spite as they called the attention of all in the room to them until they were permitted (the nerve of these tarts!!) to continue their discourse. Ulysses' apologetic preface aside, the entrance stank of glory-slutting and bullshit.

Mostly he just wanted to scream a lot. He wanted to chastise everyone in the room for not seeing things as clearly as he did. He was upset (fucking pissed!!) that they just couldn't understand, that their scarcely proto-simian minds couldn't keep up with his own grey matter.

But no. Instead, he sneered, took a shot of rye straight from the bottle, and clunked it down on the stolid wood, both for emphasis and attention. "Wonderful" The word leapt through his clenched teeth. "Now that the delegation of Strippers from the Matrix has arrived, we can really get down to business." Turning his attention away from the new additions, he addressed the rest of his assembled nova cohorts. "Was anyone but Preston and Alex even listening to Ulysses' fucking question in the first place? He didn't ask about your insipid, bullshit-based morals and he didn't want to know how you feel about a goddamned thing!" Machina's voice was raising steadily in volume and intensity, as his eyes met those of everyone in the room, finally setting on Ulysses.

"The answer to your question is 'no'. The founding fathers of my homeland penned a document that could only apply to their own countrymen. The American revolutionaries had neither the authority to assert those maxims upon all mankind nor did they have the power to back it up. And that's because the United States is not the world, and neither is any group of novas, no matter how large or inclusive, representative of all novas. One cannot assert that all novas are granted any rights by virtue of the fact that novas are a species. Not a movement, not a social club, not a revolution. Novas are creatures, and the authority to confirm or deny the rights of any creature exists only so far as the jurisdiction of the governing body can reach."

Machina took a long, hard drag from an unfiltered cigarette, burning it down to a small nub and then dashing it out on the glass ashtray provided to his place setting. He snorted smoke through his nostrils and retrained his eyes on Bailey. "It's a bitter pill to swallow, but a novas rights exceed as far as he can take them, and end where people can stop him. The. Fucking. End."

Bristling visually as he lit another cigarette, he turned sternly to Saimhe's direction. "The Wiccan Code? Are you seriously that fucking retarded?"

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Bailey looks across the table with narrowed eyes at Machina, "I appreciate your candor and critical listening skills, however I made it very clear insults and ad hominems will not be tolerated. Stick to the issues at hand and do it in a civil action. I understand you have a certain... idiom maintain but don't try to tell me you don't have the mental fortitude or power to stick the general guidelines.

"Now, we were talking about unalienable rights?"

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Machina glowered slightly, then chuckled. "Sure thing, Bailey. The overwhelming compulsion to tell it like it is...well, I'd be lying if I said it gets the best of me. I allow it. I take your fucking point and will try to be a good dog." He grinned, widely, baring his teeth.

"Please, everybody. Do go on. I'm literally hanging on your every word."

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Preston nods to the new arrivals, the snaps over when Machina finally starts to speak. He nods in argeement to much of his assessments, and smiles grimly as Machina finishes.

When he finishes with his smack-down on Saimhe, Preston interjects,

"Except that nova elites did evolve a social convention for dealing with one another that doesn't involve them killing one another. Unmasking, no matter the economic incentive behind it, was developed and perpetuated by novas for novas."

"Therefore, the capacity for us to develop our own culture and customs does exist. I do agree that any attempt to establish one will be mean and ugly, though."

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"In theory, everyone has the right to do, think, say and believe what they wish, but society limits this right for the good of the whole," Regan replies quietly. Her voice is almost too quiet and her carriage is tense as she regards Machina with feral blue eyes. Singularity places a hand on her shoulder and the tension leaves her body, but her eyes still remain the same.

"I am a Wiccan, and the generally agreed-upon tenets of my religion are as much a code of behaviour as a belief system. I think that there are worse examples of a variety of groups coming together to create a common belief system than the modern-day Wiccans and neo-pagans. We accept our differences and focus on what we have in common," she explains very quietly.

When she is finished speaking, she inclines her head to Ashnod and V before turning her eyes back to Bailey.

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"Mr Bailey, We have every right to live. What sort of sillyness would drive someone to state otherwise?"

Sakurako looks down at the table at her still closed laptop and her pad. Completely intimidated at the sheer high-powered company she is in. Machina isn't helping either.

"The rights to live free of tyranny and an overwatching eye is unalienable. To guarantee those rights though, we must, as a commonality of those who are Novas, agree to certain protocols we can respect among each other and between us and Humankind. Once we know where we stand with each other, Novas to Novas, and Novas to Humans, we can trust eachother more, and live generally in a peaceful co-existance."

Sakurako's confidence grows with her words, and she looks over to Saimhe.

"While we are different in every way, we do share a common bond as brothers and sisters of the node. It's our responsibility to try to live peacefully with each other and with our Human ancestors. The rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happyness should be what everyone strives for... It's amazing it took Americans to figure that out."

Sakurako sits back in her chair, reading everyone like a book.

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Doc responds to Machina, "An interesting insight from several stand points. The founding fathers started penning documents before they had a country backing them up. The ideas predated the organization. Time eventually showed they were right."

Doc nods to Ashnod and Violette and thinks *A planned entrance. ... Not bad.*

Doc says, "I also agree with Alex. But let's be clear, while "autoevolutionary experience" is descriptive, it is also worrisome. There is no 'god' to evolution. There is no overall plan, no purpose other than adaptation to the current environment. If every nova becomes his own species then historically such creatures are call mutants, and the eventual result is extinction. I suspect that without some kind of unity, at least for some of us, extinction is the eventual destination."

"But this is more a discussion about society than biology. If what we are doing is penning a bill of rights, then I have no problems with saying "Life & Liberty" should be among them."

"Novas should not be killed or imprisoned solely because they are novas."

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Ashnod ignores the comments made by Machina. In another world, where N-Day had never happened, the silly piece of fiction he referenced in an attempt to insult her might have had some relevance, and therefore, some impact. This is not that world, and The Matrix, released exactly one year and three days after N-Day, was one of the larger flops of 1999. Nova, by Stephen Speilberg, would be released two months later and bury the memory of The Matrix permanently in the minds of most movie viewers. She heard that the actors of that film spent two years in training for that film, and that the siblings who created it had hoped to make sequels. Perhaps in that other world, where N-Day never occurred, some of that celebrity had taken place and Machina's quip would have had more sting. As it was, his words carried no more power than an ardent lover of the film Zardoz attempts to enlighten the film-going community as to the genius of that particular piece of cinema.

After Smith speaks, she takes Bailey up on his invitation to join the circle, smoothly sliding her chair to the table and sitting in the space between Preston and Dr. Smith.

"Agreed," she begins, speaking of Smith's last remark. "I have a question for Mr. Bailey. You have started this discourse with the idea "What inherent and inalienable rights do novas have?" As Machina (she says this as MA-key-na, and not Ma-SHE-na), has pointed out, no right is inherent where jurisdiction and legality are concerned, instead a matter of agreed definition and social contract."

"Saying that, I am concerned at the initial statement, that we will be defining Novas as individuals with an active node. As the parent of a Nova child, I am unsettled by the limitations of this definition. Is the unerupted child of a Nova parent, or Nova parents, to be considered a baseline child until such time as their M-R tissue manifests? I understand that defining "latent" novas is problematic where documented quantum lineage cannot be provided, but is there to be some provision in place for when it can?"

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"To better define it; can we propose a system were our offspring, and other latents, enjoy certain rights and protections even if they are not full participating members?"

"This beggars the question of detecting latency; how is it done? Is it something we can all do, or do we set up a caste/profession whose task it is to search for and bring in these latents?"

"After all, if we do promote legal designations and protections for said individuals, we will need to know where they are."

"I still prefer we look at culture before we examine a legal code. Without a basis, the legal system will hang in dead air. After all, we developed a culture that valued the lives of its individuals before we developed any code for dealing with the loss of life."

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Bailey looks to Ashnod with a subtle smile and a shrug, "I never said there's truth in the idea of unalienable rights, only that if anyone here believed in them. Jefferson and his friends were a bit fundamentalist when they said that humans always had and always will have certain rights yet they supported capital punishment and forced imprisonment for criminals. For now, unalienable rights can be best defined as rights that would most likely be enforced by all societies.

"As to novas and active nodes, I limited the definition to that because a latent or unerupted nova don't pose legal issues beyond questions of genetic discrimination. The major issue at hand here is how to deal with the new legal quandries created by quantum powers and erupted novas are the only beings in the world that have these powers. Now, if something would actually be written down, it wouldn't limit it's scope to something as arbitrary as 'erupted novas.' Rather, it would apply to 'those who can create a telepathic bond' for laws referring to telepaths or 'those who can move from one point to another without crossing the intervening space' for teleporters. But those are specifics I don't expect us to cover here."

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"As to novas and active nodes, I limited the definition to that because a latent or unerupted nova don't pose legal issues beyond questions of genetic discrimination. The major issue at hand here is how to deal with the new legal quandries created by quantum powers and erupted novas are the only beings in the world that have these powers. Now, if something would actually be written down, it wouldn't limit it's scope to something as arbitrary as 'erupted novas.' Rather, it would apply to 'those who can create a telepathic bond' for laws referring to telepaths or 'those who can move from one point to another without crossing the intervening space' for teleporters. But those are specifics I don't expect us to cover here."

Sakurako speaks up. "Perhaps, some sort of council should be formed? Not what we're doing now, but a dedicated group of Novas that will handle such issues. But the problem is, eventually all this will lead to an issue of enforcement."

She then sighs. "Then, things get interesting. But, we gotta deal with step one first I suppose. We have dealt with what makes a Nova and what sorts of rights are guaranteed to us, the question now is, what is the total sum of or sovreignity. After all, by developing such laws, we reach the verge of creating a nation.

We... are developing more than a society I suppose. I believe we're making a nation, for when we start creating civilizations of our own on other worlds. Or perhaps on land we raise here on Terra."

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I move my chair to join the table between Bailey and Troll. I must say I'm surprised by those here; there are obvious absences of very influential people and the presence of people who probably shouldn't have anything to do with this meeting.

Myself included in the latter bit. Still, here I am, and here we are.

"What is it then that you'd like to cover, Mr. Bailey?" I ask after Endeavor's finished.

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A slow head shake starts Bailey's words, "I'm sorry, Ms. Hino, but the idea here is to not create some group of enforcement. My point of mentioning statutory language was to make an example of how a government could create an effective law that would apply to novas while not being unjustly discriminatory. To be honest, the creation of a council that could universally apply to novas is well beyond the scope of the people assembled here, even in the light of our aggregate influence."

He turns to the newcomer to his right, "As I've said, Ms. D'Aronique, I want to find the commonalities between us regardings rules, or laws, stemming from our unique abilities. General rules that transcend all societies we would join or create. Human societies have all but universally outlawed murder, rape, theft, and, in modern times, slavery. Each society deals with each of those offenses, and more, in their own way, yet they're universal as general concepts. We as novas potentially create new situations that can lead to new universal concepts. To use a consistent example, we might decide whether unconsented telepathic contact is wrong as a general concept for all societies. Or whether an energy being is using some sort of network for travel without consent is wrong. Or whether someone who can see the future stops crimes before they happen is wrong.

"Or more simple as an exampe, most baselines agree murder, as a general concept, is wrong. What I want to cover is what applications of our powers most novas agree to be right or wrong."

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"I'm sorry, Ms. Hino, but the idea here is to not create some group of enforcement. My point of mentioning statutory language was to make an example of how a government could create an effective law that would apply to novas while not being unjustly discriminatory. To be honest, the creation of a council that could universally apply to novas is well beyond the scope of the people assembled here, even in the light of our aggregate influence."

Sakurako just lowers her head.

There I go again making a fool of myself... she thinks.

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Selena puts her hand on Preston's shoulder and he reaches up and pats it. Selena turns and leaves the room. Preston takes off his HUD display and earpiece, putting them in his pocket.

"Theoretical laws without context?"

Preston pauses.

"Mr. Bailey, killing is bad, but governments condone it in war and then go on to define what constitutes legal military action. For that matter, I can kill someone within clearly defined limits as a law enforcement officer. The right to life is not universal."

"Rape brings up matters of consent; who is, or isn't, capable of giving it."

"With propterty, we are dealing with differing economic systems and categories of possessions. This includes slavery. After all, is it wise to allow anyone to own anything? In most countries, there are limits on weaponry."

"Then, there are limits set down on how one can accumulate property."

"When dealing with telepathy, we then have to deal with the concepts of free-thought and whether or not thoughts, memories, and ideas are 'protected'."

"We would also have to deal with uncontrolled telepathic contact."

"Teleportation is easier. You can only regulate what you can control. Controlling another's movements is rather difficult, though you can more easily define what constitutes trespass. That goes back to the concept of property."

"Personally, I want to stick with the basics, though."

"For starters, why is the right to life important? I imagine we each feel that our own lives are somewhat important to us, but why should they be accepted as important to anyone else?"

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"Preston, that is simple. No matter who, people have the right to their mortal lives. Yes, people wage wars and kill, but we don't have to. The only reason why war isn't waged is because it is so abhorrent. And, am I correct when stating that the only reason you can use lethal force is in the defense of your own life or the life of another officer or bystander?"

She pauses for a moment.

"The killing of another should only be as a last resort. If no other options exist."

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"And still," Ashnod begins after Hino has finished, "Preston's question remains answered. Yes, the right to life is important to you, as you have a life and do not wish to see it end. But why is your life important to anyone else? Is it only because we do not wish to have another end our own, or those of our loved ones, therefore will extend the same courtesy to others? Is that the only reason right to life is considered imperative?"

"Does this right to life extend to those who must consume life in order to continue living? To give an example, does a vampiric Nova who must consume the lifeforce, in whatever form that takes, of other living beings have less of a right to live than his victims? As distasteful as some might find it, such individuals do exist. In a society where the vampirics governed, they would say unequivocally, that their right to continued existence was unalienable. They are who they are, after all, and are they to blame if their prey is unhappy about that situation? Would they be wrong to believe this? And how would you qualify that they are wrong?

"When we speak of such things, we are no longer speaking hypothetically. If we are going to discuss the right and wrong of our quantum expression as it applies to Nova and baseline societies, will we also be discussing the right and wrong of those Novas whose existence is potentially harmful, or in the case of the vampirics, certainly harmful, to others? Novakind is unique in this: codes of behavior intended for one of us may have devastating consequences for another."

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Doc listens and nods at Ashnod's words. He says,

"To answer the first, yes, that's the golden rule. Do unto others as you would wish them to do unto you."

"As for the vampiric example, yes, he has a right to live. What he doesn't have is the right to kill. Either he makes other arrangements, perhaps feeding on the willing, or he dies, or society comes down hard on him."

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She looks over at Dr. Smith briefly.

"Allow me to clarify, then. Not just consume partial life force. Consume it completely, so that the prey dies as result."

"I see no difference in what this Nova must do when comparing it to the slaughterhouses full of bovine life, whom, if you could communicate with them, would say they are not willing to give up their lives so that you can consume their flesh. Or, could you speak with a carrot, would it find being severed from the floral root network acceptable for your to consume it. Or the apple tree happy to part with its fruit."

"All life, to continue, must consume something else. The great cats of Africa stalk and kill their prey, and it is called the natural order of the food chain. Even plants suck out the nutrients and elements from the soil, and are not completely reliant on photosynthesis. Why is this different for the example I am giving?"

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"If the Vampiric only needs the Hemoglobin of a life form to survive, then simply the blood of a subject, or several subjects, similiar to a donor system will sufice. I'm not saying completely drain someone, but only take an amount equal to what one gives as a donation for medical use. On the other hand, if it's living flesh that needs to be consumed... There is the rub. On one hand we must respect life, yet there may be or are a few who need to be the predator. This is what we face. But then again, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one. No one wants to become someone's supper."

She looks up, after opening her laptop and activating her pad.

"I hate to say it, but flesh-consumer Novas, may find themselves on such a fringe, as if to be the enemy of everyone."

She straightens her glasses.

"Perhaps, evolution made a mistake with them, and this is how it is worked out."

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Bailey holds out his hand in a pausing fashion, "If I may, I think we can limit and expand the example Ashnod has provided to help keep us on the same and relevant page. Let's say we're dealing with a nova who can only gain sustenance by killing and consuming a sentient being. Or if it makes it easier for you, kill and consume another nova. How does this condition affect the nova's interaction with a society and any rights granted to him or her by the society?"

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"Interesting, as long as we understand that vampirism is an example and not the sole issue. We could postulate that there would be a mutual consent to allow one another the right to life, but that we would not tolerate internal predatory behavior."

"That assumes this ficticious group would agree to respond to any lethal threat with equal force. Now, this would not be a condemnation of the predatory aberration itself, but an acknowledgement of the groups willingness to defend itself. Then, there is this issue of having a member that goes outside the group to fullfill his/her needs for survival."

"Please let's not forget my initial question of why is your life important to anyone else?"

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"My life is important because it is MINE. I'm not anyone's target or meal. I will defend myself to the fullest. Including terminal force."

Preston's question unnerves her. As if it has pressed a button.

"You're right, Preston, we do have the right to defend ourselves. Just because a Nova needs to eat our or Human flesh, does not mean the target or targets can't defend themselves. It happens in Nature, and it should happen in civilization. I already have an intense hatred for Soma addicts, who I consider cannibals. I would find no less pity for a Nova that hunts, kills, and eats us. Even if his life requires it."

Sakurako seems satisfied with her response and eases back in her chair.

"It is one thing to need blood, that can be donated. It's completely another to be a killer."

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Regan continues to listen silently, tapping her forefinger on the table thoughtfully. When the first opportunity arises, she speaks.

"Perhaps cannibalism could be defined as the consumption of your own or other sentient species. But then, what about people who are diagnosed with terminal cancer and other incurable diseases that must suffer because most governments don't support euthanasia? Could not said vampiric nova draw sustenance from them?"

Her expression grows concerned. "If it's a nova eating another perfectly healthy nova, then we ought to deal with that person just like a baseline would deal with a cannibal. There's no bloody excuse, period."

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"Preston asks why the right to life is important. This is part of the larger question of the social contract. Whatever society we are in, there is a set of assumptions along the lines of: 'If you don't steal from, hurt, or kill us, we will not do those things to you.' If we violate those conditions, we are no longer protected by that contract. This is why it makes sense to jail or execute murderers - they have voided their rights to life and freedom by violating someone else's 'right to life.'"

"As Ashnod has highlighted, extending this from human relations to nova relations doesn't always follow. If a nova must kill another nova in order to survive, that really does give him a reasonable excuse for doing so. Among baselines, that kind of behavior is a choice. For a nova, it may be a biological imperative. In this case, the choice becomes either to kill or to just lay down and die."

"So what should we do with novas that are innately harmful to the majority? Vampires, quantum cannibals, Plague Mary's ... can we really just kill, exile, or imprison someone with such a nature? Setting up laws for that would be punishing people for what they are, not what they have done."

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"There should be no need to lay out a series of laws for that, Alex. The rules are already there. Kill or be killed. It's the law of the wild in that sense. Quite frankly it's apalling to think that when it comes to certain Novas who are saddled with this unfortuante condition, that they are now an enemy of everyone else who aren't like them. But, who wants to lay down their life as a sacrifice? No one. Like I said before, like hell I'm a 3-course meal."

Then Sakurako turns to Saimhe.

"You're right, Saimhe, there is no excuse. There shouldn't be one. If they cannot take their sustenance through means that don't cause pain, death, or suffering, they do not deserve the right to cause such things. Buying blood from a blood bank is one thing. Visiting a farmer's market and harvesting it like a hungry wolf is another."

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"That is correct, Mr. Craft. I intentionally used the vampiric reference because we need to address the very real fact that some of our species have evolved into beings that humanity will find distasteful."

She nods once, and continues, "I did not intend to limit my example to a Nova that was forced to subside off of only Nova life. Such a Nova, tragic as it is, would not be long for this world, for no other reason that if he was not killed by a craftier or stronger Nova first, he would have an extremely limited food supply. Ms. McLachlan is also correct, that someone who chose to feed upon another Nova when they could choose another form of prey would also find themselves hunted down.

"Dr. Smith's third option for the vampiric example is what I want you all to consider very strongly, with the clarifier that this Nova would not feed off of Nova life, but was instead required to feed off baseline life. Yes, this is imperative to examine it. We all sit now, in this room, free of such a burden. But evolution plays wicked tricks on the quantum-born, and can any of you say with one-hundred percent certainty, that such a fate might not one day befall you? That one day in the defense of your own life, you push your abilities to their breaking point and in saving your life, you find that you must consume baseline life to continue living? As fellow Novas, who all run the risk, however minute, of developing that very same condition, do we have the right to say they cannot seek out their sustenance?

"Perhaps a lesser example would be more tasteful. Before his departure, Jack Chance spoke oft of his lover, a Nova who went by the name Graveyard Jill. This Nova was required, by her evolution, to consume human flesh. It needed not be live, from what I understand. But who amongst the baseline world is going to freely give up the flesh of their dead to be consumed as carrion like that? Even executed criminals have families that would see their kin given proper funeral rites.

"This was not her diet of choice. This was something she was required to consume in order to continue living. I highly doubt that this is something she subconsciously desired, that on some quiet unspoken level of her psyche, she willed her evolution in that direction any more than Ms. McLachlan here desired her skin to take on its current qualities, or Preston the bleed-over effects that were witnessed in Detroit.

"Obviously, as its own life means something to it any prey will, and should, defend itself. That should never be called into question. The question then rests, in the given examples, who would we support as a Nova society? And why? I have a point I am trying to make, so please bear with me for a while longer."

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"Although disturbing as it may seem, if the flesh-eater would eat dead flesh, and there were willing body donors after their passing, that would be acceptible. After all, the body is only a shell after death. It's those that actively need to hunt and eat it live, that turn my stomach."

Sakurako moves back in her chair. Obviously more disturbed by the subject than previously.

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