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Aberrant: Nova Reality - Sub Optimal


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"Damanor, this is Alchemist. If you are recieving this signal, respond immediately."..."Damanor, this is Alchemist. This is life or death here. Break radio silence!"..."Damnit, Robert, if you can hear this, you're sister's life is at stake here!"...

The answering static grates on Alchemist's nerves until he can't take it. Going to one of his standing counters, he draws a long and complex diagram, ultimately resulting in a drawer materialising from a previously seamless surface. Within is a flat device that looks like a data-pad. Picking it up, says simple, "Damanor" and watches as a holographic arrow appears above the flat side. It points almost straight up, and underneath is a dissapointingly small number. Cursing, Alchemist runs upstairs, through the common area, to the base's emergency room that sits just above his lab. In the corner of that room is Damanor's Windy City Knights gear.

Looking quite a bit less than pleased, Alchemist thumbs his communicator to all-hands broadcast. "Knights, we've got a problem."

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"On my way." Didge says before bolting from a stand-still in a park a few miles away. Hie jumps and flies over to WCK HQ, and as fast as pedestrian traffic and terrain allows, he bolts into medbay.

Only a minute or so after his last communication, Digigeist is at Medbay.

"What's the problem?" He says, this time making sure there isn't any... spies.

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"Sorry to call you back in on short notice. We might need the rest of the field team too, but I can get ahold of them later."

Alchemist looks both concerned and angry as he points at Damanor's uniform, still crumpled in the corner.

"That's Damanor's gear. Everything, including the homing beacon and comm unit. He's got nothing on him that I can trace, which was probably his intention. Unfortunately, I can't contact him now either, and I just got done with my analysis of the drug used on his sister."

Alchemist paces the short medbay in front of DigiGeist as he explains. His expression is one of obvious worry, and occasionally anger and frustration as well. "My initial diagnosis was wrong. The withdrawal symptoms from Optimal are lethal to baselines without extensive medical care. Normally, that would give a baseline about a week from their initial dose to either get to a hospital or get another dose. That's how long a baseline's system would take to clear the drug completely."

Alchemist turns to DigiGeist and clenches his fists in frustration. "But the drug's already been wiped clean from her system by my anti-toxins. At a guess, she's got just over a day before her body ceases to function completely."

Pacing again, Alchemist begins making broad gestures towards the city. "We've got to find Damanor. He's hidden himself away, maybe somewhere in Chicago, maybe somewhere else. He's smart, but he won't be expecting this kind of a reaction."

His outburst over, Alchemist looks expectantly at DigiGeist.

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"Doesn't make sense... If the drug was cleaned from her body, she should have started the fatal withdrawls as soon as it did. Something's not right here... Unless my assumptions are wrong. I'm not a doctor."

DigiGeist's expression turns to haste.

"To be safe, she needs to get to a hospital NOW. You have the knowledge, you can brief the doctors. I'm going to find Jager and see if we can't track down Damanor. This is bad... really bad..."

He starts to head for the door. He looks back, if to say "move man! Don't wait for my say so!" then, starts to head off to find Jager.

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  • 2 weeks later...

A short time later in The Woodlands, Texas:

Natasha paces around the apartment for the five hundredth time as Robert is out grocery shopping. This apartment complex isn't as nice as she's used to, and staying in hiding made her feel so...powerless. Like she was nobody. Especially in contrast to Robert, now revealed as some kind of supergenius nova who didn't even trust her enough to tell her. She had to get more Optimal. Then he'd see what she could do. Even a baseline like her could be as powerful as a nova with Optimal.

Finally giving up in frustration, she steps outside for a moment, standing under a pine tree until the rain stops. A walk ought to be a pleasant change - even if it's just different scenery. Anything is better than that cramped apartment right now. And if she's lucky, she might find a dealer somewhere close.

She gets halfway down the block before the pain sets in, and another fifty yards before she collapses.


Robert Walker, aka Damanor, drives back home from the new Nova Wal-Mart. "They couldn't just have a regular Wal-Mart and a Super Wal-Mart, they had to build another, bigger one. In the same shopping center."

He's nearly home when he hears the sirens. He gets a sick feeling in his gut as the ambulance drives by, and as he pulls over, his suspicions are confirmed. Only Tasha would wear that in public.

"Tasha!" he shouts as he runs toward her prone form. Police officers try to stop him, but are thrown aside by eufiber tentacles. More people get in his way, but the ground changes beneath their feet, liquefying and then becoming solid concrete. Damanor hears someone call for backup from Houston Tornado, but ignores it. He has to get his sister to safety, and these people won't be fast enough - or know what they're doing.

He grabs her with a strand of eufiber, then punches a few buttons on his self-designed wrist terminal. Space bends around him, and in a few steps, he has gone from Texas to Chicago.

Damanor pauses a moment to get his bearings - and in that moment, his vision explodes into stars. He vaguely sees one of the police officers who he had tossed aside. "Must have followed me through..." he says as his consciousness fades. Almost of its own violition, a eufiber limb bludgeons the police officer until he stops moving. Then Damanor, Tasha, and the officer lie together, a heap of unconscious bodies in the streets of Chicago.

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She never gets tired of horizons. After spending most of her life in Chicago, then going straight to NYC for college (brief as that was), seeing the great wide open is ... something else. Of course, this is business right now. Mostly.

Perched on the edge of the base slab of one of the Sears Tower antennas, April leans back against the warm steel of the antenna footing and gazes out over the lake. Nice, clear day, plenty of sun, a good wind hissing over the top of the tower. Nice day.

And yes, she is working. The police bands crackle in her ears, underlaid by a the fainter chorus of way too many cell phone conversations to really keep track of. If something really big happens, then it'll probably show up on the cell phone bandwidths first - the collective gasp of a decent chunk of the city ought to be easy enough to pick out.

Today, the incident is a bit smaller. The police dispatcher is sending a car to an intersection downtown. Listening in, April catches hints of something unusual - maybe something she should at least take a look at.

"Hey, guys? I'm going to Jefferson and Arcade - probably nothing."



April gets up, stretches, and kicks off gently, her force bubble drawing around her into a buffering cocoon. Taking a look around, she guesstimates the location and launches off - almost disappearing into a blur of motion. A moment later, she stops and looks down, tapping into the juice a little to peel away distance and and get a good look at the streets below.

"Oh ... ah, guys. Kind of a situation. I'm gonna ... be right back."


Damanor had the bad timing to land during lunch hour, with all the businesspeople in downtown Chicago flooding into the streets. That, and he's within spitting distance of both Northwestern campus and a rather nice pizza joint. And onto that two minor fenderbenders precipitated by his abrupt arrival, and he has already attracted quite the crowd of bystanders, gradually edging in for better looks.

Into this April drops, a sudden wind leading her and throwing back the crowd a step or two. Coming to a sudden rest just a couple of feet above the sprawled bodies, she hangs there for a moment - dressed in her by now quite recognizable charcoal WCK jumpsuit/flight suit. Putting on her best slightly-nervous grin, she claps her hands together briskly, remembers her projecting lessons from high school drama, and says:

"Right! So, um ... if everyone could take several steps back, we'll soon have everything under control. That's, ah, a little more please, give them room to breathe ... thanks a lot! Now, please, keep back and wait for the emergency services to arrive - I'll be right back!"

Setting down on the ground, she sidles backward as she speaks and carefully heaves Tasha up into a fireman's carry, and with the last, disappears in another burst of wind - her bubble cushioning her passenger from the acceleration and speed. Speaking very rapidly, she explains:

"Someone get Alchemist and where did you say we'd talked to the hospital staff about detoxing Damanor's sister I've got her now and I'm going to drop her in the infirmary if you need me to I can move her to a hospital but I've got to go back and get Damanor and some random cop before you know crap hits the fan or something. Just a moment."

Somewhere around 'about detoxing Damanor's sister' she reaches the infirmary, and by 'I've got to go back' she's already on her way back to the intersection. Bursting back onto the scene, she says:

"Thank you for your cooperation! Police and ambulances are coming shortly. If anyone is injured, please, give them some room and wait for the ambulance. Um, excuse me again."


"Ok so I'm holding onto a police officer here only he's definitely not CPD and he's been hurt pretty badly and I think Damanor might've done that. I just dropped him in the infirmary too and I'm heading back for Damanor."


"Hey, everybody! An ambulance is at the next block, and I see that the CPD has already arrived. Please cooperate with them as best you can ... I'll be right back."


"Damanor's in the infirmary."

April is back at the scene, now hanging about six meters above the street below. Looking down, she sees that everything is pretty much in order, and - pausing to telekinetically move a pair of cars out of the way of the ambulance (though it doesn't look like anyone got hurt in the fenderbenders) - she let's off a gusty sigh and speaks more calmly through the comm channel:

"Ok. I'm at the incident sight - that was Jefferson and Arcade. When I got here, Damanor, his sister, and a random police officer were lying on the ground, all out. Unconscious. It look like ... wait ... yeah. Yeah, Damanor and the cop knocked each other out. Or at least that's what the witnesses are telling the cops at least. That really doesn't sound good for Damanor."

"So, everyone's in the infirmary, on base. Alchemist? Are you there yet? The cop and Damanor probably aren't hurt too bad, I think. Does anyone need me to move Damanor's sister to a hospital, or do we have what we need to take care of her? And, um, what do I tell the police? I think they want to talk to me, and I'm not going to be able to ignore them much longer."

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Alchemist, still busy in his lab trying to devise a treatment for late-stage Optimal withdrawal (a feat that is sorely complicated by the fact that he has only lab mice to test on, and a VERY strict timeframe to work in), picks up April's radio chatter but ignores it until he hears the phrase 'Damanor's sister'.

At that point, he grabs a few test tubes from the bench he's working at, and rushes up the stairs to the hallway, and from there to the infirmary. Not being the fastest man in the world, he arrives just in time to see April drop off Damanor and jump out the window at hyper speed.

Both the infirmary's med-beds are now occupied, one by a cop in an unfamiliar uniform, the other by Damanor's sister. Damanor himself is slumped in the chair by the window.

Alchemist feels a familiar surge of mental clarity as he begins working at lightning speed. All of his senses expand to fill the room, taking in everything at once, even as he is rushing to Natasha's side. Before he reaches her, he's already diagnosed her as in the final stages of a full metabolic shutdown, with the very cells of her body ceasing to function. Not even a direct infusion of Optimal would cure her withdrawal symptoms at this point. It was his worst fear, and the longest shot as far as developing a treatment.

The medical bed, already a highly advanced piece of medical machinery, begins to writhe and move, as if alive. It moves to cradle Natasha's body, and wires, sensors, tubes and needles extrude themselves from their storage compartments in the bed's base. Monitors fold themselves out and up from behind the bed. Seemingly the entire contents of a hospital's intensive care unit grow up and plant themselves in Natasha's body, while Alchemist looks on with intense concern. While this goes on, he absently forms a hypodermic needle from the test tube in his hands, and injects it into an IV drip that sprouts up from below the bed.

Unsure of what else he can do for Natasha, and knowing that there are others in the room that need his attentions, he turns towards the police officer. His senses have already told him of the problems there. While Damanor is suffering from little more than a mild concussion, the Police officer has been beaten very severely indeed. The internal bleeding and a partially collapsed lung needed to be dealt with immediately, and they were well beyond his limited medical training.

The solution that presented itself was simple, and solved most of the problems resulting from this scenario. Alchemist turns the now empty syringe in his hands into smelling salts (knowing that its original composition is silicon, and that when it reverts it was highly unlikely that the minute amount that ended up in Damanor's body would cause a toxic reaction), and shoved them under Damanor's nose.

His reaction is immediate and instinctual, moving his head away from the noxious fumes and blinking his now watering eyes open. "Damanor, you need to focus on me, right now. The policeman over there is bleeding internally, and one of his lungs is partially collapsed. He needs to be in a hospital RIGHT NOW! His badge says Houston, so you're going to warp him to the Houston city hospital. Then come right back. Do you understand? No, don't worry about Natasha, there's nothing you can do for her. This man needs your help."

Alchemist pushes Damanor to the policeman's side, and turns the fistfull of smelling salts in his hand into a note, detailing the man's condition in terms that, whatever doctor gets ahold of him, will hopefully save the man's life. Pinning the note to the officer's chest, Alchemist prays that Damanor is alert enough to follow his instructions.

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Damanor is startled into consciousness by the smelling salts. His eyes go in and out of focus, and he notices the infirmary around him. *This doesn't make sense. How can I be here when I'm in Texas?*

Alchemist's words cut through Damanor's blurred senses. "Warp...Houston hospital?" he murmurs. The gate opens, a vortex of whirling darkness nearly three meters across. Damanor carries the cop across the thousand mile journey and sets him down in the ER. He attempts to explain what happened, but his incoherent rambling doesn't help the doctor at all. Alchemist's recommendations, on the other hand, are much more helpful.

Taking a deep breath, Damanor closes his eyes and tries to focus. He opens the warp gate again and steps through - but then the quantum tunnel inverts itself, burning out the device on Damanor's arm and every other technological device he is wearing. It hadn't been designed for frequent use, and this is the third warp gate in less than fifteen minutes. He screams in pain as raw quantum burns through him, flinging him across space into the WCK infirmary, where he barely escapes the collapsing tunnel.

[Extensive editing for language by censors]

Damanor does not look pleased with the situation, but remains silent. A million emotions are going through his head at once, but nothing he says could make any difference. He takes a seat where he can keep an eye on Natasha.

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