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Aberrant: Nova Reality - Reckoning


The White Rat

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A long night was coming to a close. The goods, electronics and money from the raid had been safely put away into storage. All but a couple of men remained with Rat as he began the journey back to where he had been sleeping and planning. He still wondered about Ghost and if he would see her again. She had problems, that was for sure, and she would not take what he did to her lightly.

Maybe it was late, but it seemed quieter in the sewers tonight. It was probably because of the big raid and everyone was tired and needed the rest. The men he was with were on point and they carried flashlights to illuminate the dark sewers. He was getting close to his place of refuge, and his men were anxious to get some well earned rest. Once there, he would strip off the kevlar vest and the maser and go to bed.

He followed his exhausted men into his hideout, their bodies smelling of fatigue. If it wasn't for his godly stamina, he would be as tired as they were. All Rat needed, was to finish recharging his quantum energies, and he would be ready to move on to the next stage in his plan. For now it was time to sleep.

Looking around, Rat noticed something that made his hairs stand on end. Then a sick feeling began to grow in his stomach as his mouth went dry. Where are all the guards who are supposed to be here?

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Imperceptible fields of telekinetic force wash through the area, concentrating on the Rat and his henchmen as they enter.

Somewhere not so far away (but far enough, assuming that the WCK's investigation has accurately determined the range of the Rat's discoordination attack), April opens her eyes onto a pitch black sewer tunnel. Tapping her communicator so as to speak both with those present and with those elsewhere, she reports:

"He's in his hideout, and I can feel two men with him. I think he's noticed the place is empty."

Following Alchemist's orders, she draws out her antitoxin syringe and injects herself - her hands blurring as she completes the action.

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Pop!...Pop!...Pop!...Hisssssss.

"Intruders!" Rat shouts as he whirls around to see gas coming from each of the three exits to his lair. They finally found me. Well, I need to slow them down, then get out of this room. Then I need to find out where these people are. Bring it on!

He forced quantum through his large node, unleashing a wave of ability transferring energy. It pulsed through the walls and down the tunnels, draining everything in its wake. His two associates immediately fell to the ground, unable to stand.

His next move was to dodge past the jet of gas that obscured the tunnel behind him. He assumed the tunnel he came in was still safe. It also branched some 50 meters or so down the tunnel. The other two tunnels coming into his hideout were at right angles to his. So unless they could move through the walls, they would either have to come at him directly, or take side tunnels until they found the correct tunnels which led to his. He picked this location because it was strategically advantageous.

As he passed through the gas, it made him slightly dizzy. No! He screamed to himself, knowing the effect that mox has on nova physiology. There was something else in the gas as well, but he couldn't identify it. He was only going to get weaker as time went on.

He stopped 10 meters down the tunnel and attuned himself to the Quantum energies around him. In addition to allowing him to see his surroundings, it also allowed him to detect quantum signatures and powers. Sure enough, humanoid shapes were visible in various locations near his hideout. Novas

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Elsewhere, April adds:

"He's moving south ... and he just stopped. About, um, 10 yards. He's really fast - I don't think I'm going to be able to hold onto him well enough. I'll try."

Reflexively, one of her hands tightens in a clutching motion as she focuses her fields. The Rat sees one of novas (about sixty meters away, in a pretty indirectly connected tunnel) go quantum active as the air around him seems to thicken - an unseen force dragging on his limbs with iron determination.

"I'm slowing him down, but he's still moving."

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"OK, time for me to move up and take a crack at him." Running from the rally point as fast as she can manage, Sandcaster rounds bends and corners...and finds herself a lot closer to the albino nova than she had really wanted to be.

Her hands fly up and grains of sand start to form and shoot out just as he begins to react. A massive blast of sand like some bizarre transformed firehose rockets toward White Rat, catching him squarely in the midsection.

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Alchemist moves to assist his friends, flowing through the walls of Rat's lair. Or at least, that's what he wants to do. As he attempts to move towards the ongoing battle, he finds himself paralyzed inside the wall.

"Damn." He thinks to himself. He'd been hoping his helmet would block the effects of this attack, or his gas would stop the enemy nova from using it. Impatiently, he focuses his vast intellect on moving the atoms around him, using the effect that he first tried when learning to move through solid matter. It was slow going, re-shaping the wall around him consciously to push him in the correct direction, but perhaps he would be able to help out in this fight yet.

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Something began to weigh him down. He could see a nova emitting quantum energies which created a field around him, slowing him down. He knew from his military training, that he had to get out of it's range.

Then a blast of something hits him in the torso. It felt like getting punched by sandpaper. He could feel tiny particles of sand in his clothing, where they had scuffed the skin off his midsection. His flak jacket had absorbed most of the damage though, and he retaliated. He pushed another wave of dexterity sucking energy away from him in the hopes on neutralizing this opponent.

Drawing his maser, he prepared to avoid the ensuing counterattack.

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Vali has tried to stay around 60 meters from Rat as he was entering his lair. He has circled around behind him, to cut off his most likely line of retreat. Unfortunately, this has left him too far back when the initial attacks went down. Still, he remains attuned to the combat through the teams interface and is closing rapidly on the Rat's back. With the Rat falling back toward him, he catches a bit of the Sandblast coming his way, but shrugs it off. Most of it caught the Rat anyway. For a moment, he studies his opponents, looking for the weaknesses to present themselves to him.

Vali reads himself for his attack, trying to keep to the Rat's blindside. He readies his palms for a rapid series of serpent strikes, while at the same time preparing to dodge and weave to avoid any counter attack and crossfire with his allies.

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Alchemist moves forward slowly through the walls. It's a painstaking process, draining him of his quantum energies faster than he's comfortable with. But he has enough spare attention to extend his senses outwards to watch the battle.

What he sees surprises and dismays him. The Rat escaped his gas trap with less than a full dose, so he was still in the fight. Possibly worse, he'd armed himself with an energy weapon...probably a maser, it would take too much attention to be sure. Nothing he could do at this range. But if he could just get a bit closer, he could disable it...

Slowly, Alchemist continues towards the fight.

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When she stumbled, there could be no doubt about it; damned thing is draining my coordination, Sandcaster realized. Making matters worse, Vali was now in close combat with the damned rat, which severely limited her options.

Still, she could at least even up the odds. First, she tapped a bit of quantum, and was suddenly in doubletime. She might not be the most nimble person at the moment, but if nothing else, she would be quick.

A moment later, she began the real work. Nobody moves fast in a mud pit, she thought with a dark grin. Concentrating, she started converting raw quantum energy into silica granules at a phenomenal rate, holding them in a transitory state until they had built up to a critical mass. Then, she let the whole thing go. Both the White Rat and Vali suddenly found themselves waist deep in a beach that had no right to exist in the Chicago sewers.

As soon as the massive sandpile had formed, Sandcaster reached up to a 12-inch pipe. She had already figured out from its infrared signature that it was warm but not hot, and that meant it was a sewer line. With a grunt from her and a squealing tear from the pipe, she wrenched it loose, directing its stream straight onto the sandpile, turning it into a heavy, soggy mess.

Heh...let him try to move quick in that.

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Vali falls on White Rat with a surprising quickness only to be met with a rapid response from the Rat, who twists and blocks his first strike effortlessly. For just an instance, Rat seems to shift aside and the energy of Vali's strike seems to pass into the sand surrounding the Rat. Both get a what the fuck look on their faces, but Vali recovers first. He lands a perfectly placed finger strike to the Rat's solar plexus, sending the aberrated nova stumbling back toward his other attackers.

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He heard someone approaching from his rear and turned around to meet the new threat. The new nova opponent was fast and rat brought up his hands to defend himself from the blows. The first punch glanced harmlessly off his forearm and hit the wet sand with a thud. The fact that he blocked the attack surprised him.

The second blow however, slid off his clumsy blocking attempt and slammed into his chest. It lifted him out of the sand and sent him rolling down the pile to the other side where he now stood in front of the earth-powered nova. His chest was burning, and blood started to come from his mouth.

Rat knew that if he could not increase his defensive capabilities, he would be subdued.

Lunging forward, he manages to touch the slow moving sand-like nova. He could feel his node adjust and mimic her powers. Her defensive capabilities are impressive, now I have them too. Rat satisfyingly thought to himself.

Instantly he felt his body change. His skin became like hardened sand, and his organs adjusted to survive traumatic injury.

Despite the benefits gained from her defenses, he was now surrounded. A wall of stinking wet sand and a nova blocked the passage behind him. In front, was another nova. Behind her, was a swirling cloud of nova-powered gas, and it was moving towards him.

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Sandcaster watched the effect of the foul-smelling sand on Vali and the Rat, and smiled; Vali could take him apart, and all his stolen coordination wouldn't help him. The smile fell like lead when she saw her teammate literally punch his opponent free of the muck. Her mind screamed -- what is the idiot doing?!? -- and then she had larger problems, as White Rat had landed almost in her lap, and had lashed out with a wave of quantum that she felt seep through her.

In an almost automatic reaction, she delivered a swift kick to the heavily aberrated nova...and may as well have kicked a boulder. The damned thing had somehow copied her Sandstone effect, and at that point, she knew in no uncertain terms that she was in trouble.

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Alchemist, barely mobile but still safe within the confines of the walls, watches the Rat take apart his friends. Everything around him, especially himself, is moving in slow motion. He's going over possible scenarios in his mind, discarding them as fast as they come.

Near as he can tell, he's never even going to make it to the fight, let alone help his far more combat effective friends. All he has going for him is the stealth that his current location offers, inside the wall of the corridor leading to the fight. His ability to affect the world didn't reach much past the closest wall of that corridor, and at his current rate of movement, he'd reach the end of the tunnel in about the same time it would take April to reach the moon.

As he watches the fight, struggling against the effects of White Rat's powers, he notices the nova glance down the tunnel he's following, measuring the approach of the gas. It's a calculating look, like he's trying to figure out how much time he's got before it reaches him...

It's a bad idea. Even if he was at full mobility, spreading that level of toxin around the sewers of a major metropolitan area would be a difficult thing to contain. But the alternative is to watch his friends fight, and possibly die, against this other nova.

The decision is made as quickly as it is implemented. Matter is shifted, shaped, changed, and out of the wall of the sewers snaps a large box-fan, which begins venting the gas from his trap towards where the Rat stood. Alchemist doubted it would take him by surprise, but if it reached him, the fight would be over.

Then, what he's just done hits home. His mind shifting into overdrive, Alchemist tries to figure out how he's going to clean up the mess he's just created.

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BlackStar have been waiting out of Rat´s area of effect because if the criminal Nova copies his Teleporting ability could escape. But the combat is not going very well for his companions and he notices Alchemist trick and try to help it at range.

He canalizes some juice and traps the gas with a force bubble and try to put it around the Rat´s head.

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The fight runs in slow motion as April 'watches' from the sidelines, her telekinetic fields conveying the agonizingly sluggish second-by-second series of events.

She feels the Rat's skin go hard and rough, at which point she decides to intervene - from out here, she can act, but it's way harder, given the need to both concentrate on her tactile ESP and to do everything at the end of a set of what amounts to a giant pair of telekinetic tweezers.

Allowing her focus on the scene to lapse, she opens herself up to her quantum expression, letting speed suffuse her body and heighten her senses. The world slows down even more, and she leaps the distance to the scene - traversing the path between here and there in so little time as to be almost instantaneous.

She remembers her training (first with Project Utopia, and then, a little, with Jager and DigiGeist) and immediately closes with the Rat. He's still on the floor (and it would be best if he stayed there), so she peppers him with blows - testing the limits of his newfound resilience and aiming to disable him as quickly and cleanly as possible.

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The nova kicked him and he didn't even feel it. However, he was still lying on the ground, and in a vulnerable position. He knew that he had been taxing his quantum energies to their fullest and that the stresses on his tainted body were mounting. He began to feel his quantum forces changing to adapt to the desperate situation.

Something was changing. His node was forcing quantum into his body, where it began to react to external forces. He felt as if his body wanted to be struck, to be hit and react. His body wanted to direct those energies into his molecular structure, but he was not sure what that meant.

He felt a sharp blow to his kidneys, and it stung slightly. That blow should have taken me out he thought, as his body absorbed the blow.

He felt his molecules begin to separate. The sensation was disconcerting with his body feeling like it was de-molecularizing. His body first behaved like egg yolks. Then the molecules moved farther apart until he felt like he was liquid.

More blows struck him, over and over. He lost track of them. His body, however, behaved like water, with each hit splashing into his body, absorbing some of the blow. My Quantum protects me if I choose it to. He found himself smiling through bloody teeth when he thought it. It soon turned to a frown as he realized that a ball of the toxic gas was moving towards his head.

With a fight to finish, he pulled his maser from it's holster.

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April hits the Rat once, feeling the rough, pebbly skin she would've expected, but he doesn't seem to respond ... he just takes the blow without a sound. Her second punch follows through, but doesn't strike anything solid - his flesh is turning liquid, now feeling like sand running through her fingers.

She continues to pepper him with blows, but to no effect as his body somehow reacts to the trauma. Caught off guard by the she kicks away from him, skimming backward through the air a couple meters.

She can still feel him in her telekinetic fields, but he seems 'softer' now - striking him won't be doing much good, whether it is done with her hands or her mind. He's still physically there, though, so a less aggressive approach might work ...

Her fields of force clench down on him again - more firmly this time, as she does her best to pin him in place until the gas can do its work. Without waiting to see if he is strong enough to tear free, she spins in midair and kicks at his weapon. She's never seen a gun like that, which probably just means it's a particularly good idea to get it out of his hands.

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Anticipating to cook his opponent like a hard boiled egg, Rat suddenly found himself unable to move. An unseen force was pushing against him in all directions, and he was not strong enough to break free or move. When the same nova who held him with her mind kicked the maser out of his hand, he knew that he had few options left.

If he walled her and the gas away from him with a force field, it would delay the inevitable, as she looked to have lots of quantum energy left. She could hold him longer than he could maintain the field, and once it dropped, he would succumb to the gas. Even then, a beach ball sized ball of the gas would be on top of his head while he maintained the wall. He needed more power, and hopefully, he would be able to resist it's effects long enough to escape.

That meant holding them off, and finding the strength necessary to break free and get out of this trap. He needed more quantum to even attempt what he was going to do, so he remembered his training, and began to destroy cellular tissue and convert it into quantum. The pain was excruciating. When he finished, he felt half dead.

He built a forcefield wall around him to keep the gas out and to prevent the other novas from hitting him. It stretched the tunnels dimensions on both sides of him. He had one last chance to get away after that. If that failed, there was no other option, but surrender.

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It is all too much for Vali. Nothing is going right. He's screwed up and driven the Rat toward Sandcaster and now the bastard is trying to get away. The total injustice of it gnaws at him and something inside, cold and dark, shudders and stirs to life.

White Rat is not worthy of his gifts. He inflicts pain and suffering on those around him. He poisons the very air people breathe with his hate, greed, and abuse of power. He must be stopped!

Vali closes on the wall shielding the Rat and punches his hand knife-like through the debris. It is tough, but Vali drives his fingers home. He feels the Rat's power and he stabs at it. His own outrage reaches out from his fingertips and infects the Rat. Something inside White Rat twists and bends horribly. It almost breaks, but it is definitely weakened.

Just a little more, he whispers.

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Sandcaster watches as the White Rat crumbles in the face of Vali's attack. The albino nova can't have much left in him, she realizes. A Sandblast would probably take him down...but might also kill him, and she'll be damned if she'll have a death on her hands. Time to give him the chance to end this with dignity.

"White Rat, it's over! Surrender now; it's the only chance you have!" She throws that bit of extra something behind her words, the attention-grabbing aura that had always served to make certain that what she said was heard. "Stand down now, and no further harm will come to you!"

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Battered and bloody, with his quantum nearly depleted, Rat heard the sandy-colored nova yell clearly "Stand down now, and no further harm will come to you!" His mind raced, and panic began to set in.

Not now!he pleaded in his mind as the stress of combat had started the inevitable, from which he could never escape. He fell to the ground clutching at his forehead as visions of exploded children assailed his mind. Their tiny broken and dismembered corpses were surrounding him and he was sitting in their blood.

"Aieeeeeeeee!" Rat screamed at the top of his lungs as he toppled over onto the tunnel's floor. His node reacted, like it always did and unleashed an uncontrollable burst of motion draining quantum energy. After that, everything went black.

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Vali feels the sickening wave of energy wash over him once and feels his joints harden and his ligments gel. It feels ... different form what he has taken for normal for so long.

Still, he yanks the Rat up and prepares to continue pummeling him. A fierce snarl is on his lips as he cocks back his fist then he stops. Instead of hitting him, he slams the Rat down into the muck and pulls out some plastic ties. He pulls White Rat's arms behind his back and raps them up in multiple pairs and starts Maranda-izing him.

When Vali finishes, he jerks White Rat up and looks toward Alchemist.

"You should do something about that gas. We don't want to inadvertantly poison anyone."

He starts to drag the Rat back to the surface, but stops next to Sandcaster.

"Sorry about that. I didn't mean to knock him into you. It was a bad move. Again, sorry."

With that, he looks over to April.

"I guess we should get this bastard up to the surface asap. I would like to get back to wiping out the rest of his gang while their scents are still strong."

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April shakes her head dizzily, like there's a ringing in her ears. Her first movements are clumsy - overcompensating for a sudden sluggishness spreading through her body. Adjusting, she takes the weight from Vali, reminding him:

"I've still got him. That last ... whatever isn't causing me too many problems, so don't worry about dragging this guy out. I can just hustle him up. [grins] Unless you need the exercise. We should get Alchemist before we move him to HQ, though, 'cause I don't know what we've got planned to hold him."

"Where is Alchemist? [switches to her communicator] Where are you, Alchemist? Need a lift?"

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The second wave washes over Alchemist. If it were possible for him to be further paralyzed, he might have been phazed by it. Since he was already completely immobile, it made little difference to him.

Rather than responding to April's signal, he reshapes the material of the sewer wall around him, making sure to canibalize the fan at the same time, and pops out of the wall of the sewer inside what looks like a iron and concrete exoskeleton. A moment later, the monstrosity begins moving with surprising agility for something so unwieldly looking, carrying Alchemist along inside.

"I'm working on the gas problem. My mobility is somewhat limited at the moment, but nothing I can't handle." Again, Alchemist reaches for the wall, and pulls out a pair of aerosol cans. Within the cans, hunks of solid nitrogen are sublimating into a highly-pressurized gas, with an enzyme-rich liquid mixed in. This was how he'd planned on taking care of the gas before he'd decided he would need to spread it further than intended. Hopefully, it would be enough...

"April, if you would be so kind as to spray down this tunnel with these cans, I'll work on the main chamber back there. As for storing the Rat, there's a medical station inside my Lab. Hook him up to the IVs, and watch him until I get back. His body chemistry indicates he's in a state of catatonia, so he shouldn't be much trouble, at least not for the moment."

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April listens, then concentrates - her normal speed and grace returning over a few moments. Accepting Alchemist's can of enzymes and empties it in a darting flurry of movement through the gas cloud. Done with her half, she leaves the rest to Blackstar and adjusts her telekinetic grip on the Rat.

"Want a lift Vali, Sandcaster? We probably should have a couple of us watching the Rat in case he, y'know, wakes up and goes berserk or something. And I just blew a lot of juice."

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