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Aberrant: 2011 - N!Prime 2009 Event - The Big One

Nathan Dayes

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The basics:

What Happens: On August 27th, 2009, Southern California is rocked by an 8.1 Richter scale earthquake.

What Also Happens: The damage is most extensive in Los Angeles and surrounding county and townships. Gas mains are burst, roads are shifted, utilities such as electricity and water are disabled. The eufiber backbone of the OpNet for southern California is knocked out, causing widespread misinformation.

Aftershocks continue throughout the first day and are mostly gone by the 28th.

What Are The Major Organizations Up To?

Project Utopia is quick to respond, sending in Team Tomorrow Americas and other affiliated novas. After realizing how extensive the damage is, Utopia puts out a blanket call for any volunteers, baseline and nova alike, to help aid the damaged areas. However, they run into a bureaucratic snag with FEMA, which doesn't want the Project's aid and says that any Project personel entering the disaster area will be arrested under FEMA's emergency legal powers. This clash of organizations can be circumvented by stealth, or mediated by social skills, or ifthe nova is powerful enough, just plain ignored.

There is a local Los Angeles cult called the Divisians who have taken the initiative in broadcasting via pirate radio that the earthquake was caused by Divis Mal. Teragen-affiliated novas may have something to say about this. Also see Rumors, below.

DeVries and other Elite agencies may have their nova members hired by FEMA to help out in the emergency. If Elites insist on payment in advance, they may not see action until the second or third day; if they do their work with pay later they may find difficulties down the line with getting the money. Wealthier private citizens may hire a nova for their own ends, possibly running into problems with FEMA. Also see Rumors, below.

The Directive, being a military-intelligence organization targetted at rogue novas, has no official involvement other than stepping up surveillance on any novas able o cause an earthquake. But see Rumors, below.

Bureaucratic nightmares mixed with natural disasters? Is this a take on Katrina?

Sort of, yeah. I find that stories of the future - or of alternate present-to-near-futures like this one - are really stories about our world refracted though a prism. Consequently, comparisons with Katrina are intentional, and more to the point, inevitable. Of course, Katrina didn't have superpeople swooping down to help or hinder the relief effort, but that's the essense of Aberrant right there - taking something we find familiar and mixing in the superhuman and seeing how they react to each other.

So what should I know about Los Angeles and surrounding area?

Quite a bit of information on how L.A.'s changed is listed in Aberrant: Year One. I will summarize, for those without a copy:

- Population: 19 million

- Black 8%, Asian 15%, Caucasian 36%, Hispanic 41%

- In 1999, the sheriff's department and the police were merged together under a single legal authority, the Los Angeles Law Enforcement Bureau, or LALE. Many people such as the operatives of Directive OpCell Sundial still use the old acronym out of familiarity, not because their author neglected to check. The LALE is made up of a mix of good cops and glorified thugs. You decide which one you run into, if any.

- The city is divided up into twelve mandated time zones, with work schedules mandated by law that are one off from each other. This is to alleviate rush hour. Richer zones get the 'better' schedules. Yes, it's a dopey law. It's far from the first one. What this means is that many people will be at work, or on their way to work, when the earthquake hits, while many others will be asleep or at home or out on the town.

- Some of the wealthier in Los Angeles live in metroplexes - similar to the Addis Ababa arcology though much less grand in scale. A mall, office building, apartment complex and parking garage all in one. They are considered private property and are not open to the public. The larger ones reach about 5,000 residents.

- The Home Shield Law means that any tresspassing on private property can be met with lethal force. Although this law may be suspended under FEMA's emergency powers, many residents of LA will not take the hint - and even if they do, they may neglect or be unable to deactivate any lethal-intensity security systems.

So what happens, roughly when?

August 27th

9:10: Earthquake hits. Aftershocks throughout the first day. Most communications with LA are knocked out.

9:30: Team Tomorrow Americas responds. (If there is a nova on the team capable of large-scale teleportation, they may arrive immediately - otherwise, the faster moving members will arrive first to assess the situaton.)

9:30: Also around this time, FEMA moves into action, implementing plans for dealing with an earthquake in the area.

11:00: Due to the communications blackout, rumors are running wild. See Rumors, below. What is known is that the earthquake was at least an 8.1.

11:30: Project Utopia puts out a blanket call for volunteers, nova and baseline alike, to assist in the relief effort. Within two hours they have over five hundred volunteers. This effort is hampered by further events.

11:45: The Divisians start broadcasting via pirate radio. Taking the initiative, many others turn to low-tech ways of getting their voices heard in the devastated area.

12:15: FEMA officially responds to Utopia's call for volunteers, negatively. FEMA states that they will behandling the relief effort and that while Project Utopia's contribution is appeciated, it is unnecessary. Publically, Utopia does not respond - privately, the directors of both organizations are on the phone to each other for the rest of the afternoon.

12:30-6:30: The first chaotic hours of the relief effort. Utopia has heard the broadcast that Divis Mal has caused the earthquake and is unsure of whether or not this is the truth. Consequently they send nova agents into the disaster zone to help out and and also to try and pinpoint the pirate broadcast. FEMA looks into hiring a couple of nova agents itself.

6:30: Talks break down and FEMA issues an ultimatium - if any volunteer not affiliated with FEMA enters the disaster area, they will be arrested. The statement is widely reported and causes a firestorm of debate. Officially, Utopia is honoring the edict while still recruiting its volunteers and employees for when they are permitted entry.

9:00 PM: President Randall Portman issues a call for support for the people of southern California in this difficult time. He does not comment on the rift between FEMA and Utopia.

August 28th

Morning: Tensions still high and progress is slow. Accusations are flying around - people are blaming Utopia for sticking its nose into the affairs of a sovereign nation, and people are also blaming FEMA for letting bureaucracy and some grudge against Utopia interfere with a mission of mercy.

8:30: FEMA gets an anonymous tip that the pirate broadcast claiming the earthquake was caused by Divis Mal is faked by the Divisians. Comprehensive evidence is in the bag that contains the tip.

9:30: FEMA's PR flack, Jane Myers, holds a press conference. The conference is defined by the repeated use of the phrase "We don't know yet." She insinuates at one point that Utopia acted in haste when word of the now-discredited Divisian broadcast reached their ears, and that FEMA had no choice but to assert its authority. More debate lights up the OpNet.

12:00 - 5:00: OpNet still out throughout much of southern California. Rumors run rampant, with a few being squished.

5:30: In a srprising turn of events, FEMA Has partially reversed its order and will allow select non-FEMA personel through on a provisional basis. (Who is allowed in at this time is decided by backgrounds. Anyone with Backing 4 or Influence 5 in a relevant area will be allowed in provisionally to help. These prerequisites will be lowered by 1 for each subsequent day after the 28th. All personell let in this way may have to deal with conficting orders. All who enter without going through these channels should either be subtle about it, or be ready to eat a little shit later on if they get caught.)

2:00 onwards: Player generated content. A summary of any details in a ficton you create should be posted in this thread so that we can all stay on the same page.

August 29th

Mid afternoon: OpNet starts to get restored in parts of the affected region. Anyone in the disaster area with access to an OpNet-capable device may post on the OpNet at this point. Before this day and time, communication is extremely limited - OpNet backbones are out and wireless towers are inoperative.


- The earthquake was caused by nova powers. (False.)

- The earthquake was caused by Divis Mal. (Also false.)

- Some LALE cops are taking this as an excuse to beat up anyone they feel like. (True, though not nearly as widespread as it sounds.)

- People entering stable shelters are being hurt or killed by security systems or armed tenents made legal by the Home Shield Law. (True. Again, not that common, but it's happening.)

- Some of the private megaplexes are sealed shut and conditions inside are deteriourating. (True - one of these megalexes has a nova living inside who is taking a rather large bite out of stored food.)

- Other megaplexes are just fine and are outright hostile towards anyone looking for shelter. (True - see the Home Shield Law.)

- Two Elites have chosen the devastated LA to stage a mask duel. The names of the Elite vary depending on whoever repeats the rumor. (False.)

- The water in LA is contaminated wth epic levels of spilt toxins and drugs such as Red 7. (All depends on where you get it - some water is fine, some isn't. Most of the water that isn't fine is contaminated by dust, metals and other commonly found substances.)

- LA's gangs are taking the opportunity to settle a few scores. (True.)

- One of the nova agents of Team Tomorrow Americas grew so frustraed during a bureucratic tangle that they punched a FEMA employee's head off. (False.)

- The earthquake is cover for a large-scale Directive operation. (False, but see "Earthshaking.")

- The squabble between FEMA and Utopia is caused by... (No details on what caused it will ever be fully confirmed. Just chalk this one up to a bureaucratic cockup.)

- Post your own rumors below.

So what are the OOC rules governing this event?

Rules-light for the most part with the exception of the backgrounds listed above - this is to prevent Joe Nobody from strolling in and doing whatever without any conseqences.

All fictions dealing with this earthquake and its aftereffects should be tagged (TBO) - short for The Big One.

In the event of a dispute between players, I would appreciate it if you all could work it out amongst yourselves instead of filling up a chatlog with complaints and personal insults. If it can't be worked out, contact me if you feel I will be fair in arbitration, or contact the Directors if you want to roll the dice with them. As a rule, if one story contradicts another, the one posted first has seniority. (This is why a brief synopsis of events in your story should be posted in this thread.)

Can my new character erupt during this earthquake?

Sounds good to me.

Can I speed up or alter the initial events of the timetable?

I'm going to have to say no, because the initial timtable is there to make sure as many of us are on the same page as possible.

Can I come up with my own rumors, then?

Sure. Post them below and I'll add them to the original post. Jut be sure to tell us all if they're true or not.

But I don't want to say if they're true just yet.

I know. However, we need to know if they're true in advance because true rumors, or rumors with a grain of truth to them, affect the shared reality of the fiction. If one person states a rumor as demonstratably false and another demonstratesit as true, we have a problem and I would rather solve it ahead of time.

Well, I think this fiction's going to suck then.

That's quite possible, since this is the first of these I have been the ringleader for. Don't take it personally if I make a mess of things.

Why are you taking charge of this one, then?

I have a map of ideas for stories for Nathan Dayes. One of the ideas on this map was combing through a natural disaster and competing with other faction's representatives in search of a Maguffin. The earthquake, when initially proposed, fit the idea perfectly. It also seemed to fall by the wayside as time went on, and now that I have advanced to the point I'm writing the relevant Nathan story, it would seem rather odd to have an earthquake devastate Los Angeles and having me be the only person reacting to it.

I still have questions!

Ask them in the thread below.

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I don't want to make it mandatory to declare participation in TBO before it starts. That said: anyone who wants to post here where they are when it all goes down, is welcome to.

A note: there won't be one chief story thread which everyone posts in, like with the Blackburn. This is a shared event but not a shared story, if that makes any sense. All stories will be kept discreet unless crossover is desired.

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Well, I've started With Great Power, which is, for now, set in a PU volunteer camp somewhere outside LA, I guess they're letting people stay there until they know if they'll be able to help or not. For now, the fic is open to anyone who would reasonably be there.

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