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Aberrant: No Fate - Chapter 1: Innocence


Joani
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You wake up to the beeping sound of an alarm you heard for the first time. Actually for the second time… its been only over a year ago. Trying to find a way how to turn it off the alarm suddenly stops. You acknowledge the request for the warp finding a secure place first where no one can see you.

Once you stepped through the warp you enter a faintly familiar room. The architecture reminds you of Omegas examination facilities but instead of facing the medical staff with all their scientific equipment you face a large oval-shaped table with 8 seats. At the head of the table you see your liaison officer Ms. Baxter still absorbed with her clipboard reading some files. With a blink of an eye the room gets filled with the presence of the members of Team 7 as everyone steps through the warps.

You approach the table and take your seat nodding to the other members of T7. Without touching anything the computer unit in front of you hums to live and projects a holographic image to the center of the table. Ms. Baxter interfaces her clipboard with her own unit and starts speaking without addressing anyone in particular.

“This will be your first assignment.”, she comments detached. The holographic image portrays a teenager of approximately 16 years of age. He has dirty blonde hair, blue eyes and wears glasses. His face is strangely androgynous and if it wasn’t for his name he could’ve also passed as a young girl.

“What you are currently looking at is the face of one Richard Brandt, german student of Physics with focus on Quantum-Physics prior to his eruption.”, the holographic unit provides you with several pictures of Richard sitting at a café and talking with fellow students.

“Don’t let yourselves be distracted by his innocent looks. This is how he looks now:”, the hologram shows the same face only now it seems coated with quicksilver. His eyes are like displays constantly changing as if someone was switching channels of a TV and he appears even more androgynous than before. It is obvious to see that the boy is heavily tainted.

“Richard – or “Newton” how he calls himself has just erupted 6 months ago and displays an alarming control of his powers. We are still trying to determine the true nature of his eruption but so far nothing has turned out to our satisfaction. What we do know is, that he was invited by the German government to attend a special school of highly gifted minds and talents. That was 6 months ago. We also know that the facility he has been brought to is actually a Project Proteus building.”, the hologram provides you with a satellite picture of a former US-Army base in Germany near Heidelberg completely with exact coordinates of its location.

“Newton is extremely dangerous. He has already made contact with the Aberrants and we have reason to assume that he was at Bahrain. We also have reason to believe that he is not operating alone and that he has recruited at least 3 like minded Novas for his cause. What his true goals are is yet undetermined but he has managed to escape Proteus, Utopia and Teragen influence. We believe he had contact with Corbin and is trying to reveal the truth about the Slider murder. As you already know rumours are spreading like a fire around the globe and any further indication that Project Utopia and Proteus are responsible for Sliders death unbalances the status quo. We need the status quo to operate without drawing too much attention to missing Novas to the authorities. You need to execute Newton as discreet as possible and disappear immediately.”, Ms. Baxter presses on a button on her clipboard and closes the file.

“Details about Newtons powers, last known residence and most likely whereabouts are downloaded to your personal computers. If you don’t have any further questions the meeting is adjourned.”

Ms. Baxter looks up, adjusting her glasses and pressing the clipboard firmly to her chest and smiles thinly over the it.

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Callum stirs, the buzzing oddly familiar and yet completely irritating. It finally stops as he locates the small PDA like device and scrolls down through the message. He rolls his eyes and drops the hunk of plastic and electronics on the bed and he grabs the phone and dials John through the TTY.

John answers quickly, his greeting showing up in green LCD on the small screen next to the telephone, *Hello? Who is it?*

Callum sets to typign his reply, cursing under his breath as his half awakened fingers stumble over the keys in the dark. *John, it's Cal, I've got to deal with something can you come by and take Molly to school for me?*

*Sure, no problem, give me ten minutes.* comes the reply.

Callum thanks his freind and shuffles off to the bedroom next door. He peers into the darkened room and smiles at his daughter sleeping peacefully. Carefully shutting the door he showers and dresses in the time it takes John to arrive. Making sure his old freind can see him he signs while saying, "Her lunch is already made up and in the fridge. If I get back in time to pick her up I'll call and let you know. Otherwise you know the drill."

John nods and flops down on the couch without a word and only a wave and thumbs up as commentary.

*****

Minutes later Callum arrives at the Omega facility, he grabs some much needed tea, loads it with suger for a quick boost and then grabs half a dozen danish before finally sitting down at the conference table. He listens to the information download and finally asks a single question, "What's the time table? "

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He was a creature of the night. He woke when the sun cast it's long orange shadows across the land and saw the sandman when the early bluish rays woke the birds. The daylight was for those who held onto their diurnal natures. The Nosferatu and his coven of followers lived by the moon and stars. So when the phone rang early in the morning, it would have been a few hours until bedtime.

Cursing his luck and the daylight world, Nosferatu pushed away Rebecca, and told the others to leave him. They bowed slightly as he waved them out. He shuddered slightly as he imagined what Geryon would do time if he knew Nosferatu's true motives. It's not that he didn't like the Teragen, he did, their philosophy had a purity and a purpose, it was that he held allegiance to Omega. Nosferatu didn't see how the philosopy and his job couldn't co-exist. For Geryon and the others though, it wouldn't matter.

Picking up the PDA, Nosferatu read the data. He noted each of the details contained in the message. Of special note were the powers that Newton brought to the fray. They would provide little defense against Nosferatu's powers. He would suck him dry. Of course he had to be careful, there were always unanticipated difficulties.

Nosferatu walked out door of his partitioned bedroom in what was a spacious loft above an unrented commercial space. It was chosen for its location to both a popular fetish club, and the Blackburn Hotel. "Rebecca, David, Mary," he beckoned emotionlessly to the three black clad gothic followers. "A personal matter has arisen that, only I can take care of." His hand stroked Rebecca's cheek, tracing down her jaw and neckline to the top of her breast. He pierced his teeth into her flesh, drawing blood. A sharp draw of breath came from her mouth, followed by a quiet pleasured moan as he drank just a few tablespoones worth. He pulled his face away from her bosom, licking the blood that trickled from his lips.

"I will carry your strength with me, Rebecca." As he turned to leave and call the warp, he issued a decree. "You are in charge while I'm gone, Rebecca. If anyone asks, you show them my mark."

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The alarm woke Cherub up in someone else's bed... not that this was unusual. He briefly reflected on what he'd done last night, and with whom, but other than something about several bars and several girls nothing specific came to mind. Without opening up his eyes he checked his mind's radar and noted that no one was watching him. From what he was hearing he wasn't alone so... yep. She was still asleep. What was her name? Mindy? Mandy?

Cherub opened his eyes and looked around. Ah, make that "Mindy and Mandy". Tom looked at the two women and decided they weren't sisters. Somehow he managed to get up without waking anyone up and wrote them a quick note. His clothes and gear were on the floor where they'd left it. His nova metabolism had already burned off whatever he'd taken last night and was demanding food, but the summons had been issued so off he'd go. Maybe he'd pick up take out on the way.

(At the meeting)

Cherub snacked on yet another bagel from his sack and paid close attention to their target information and the others in the room.

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Void had already put her costum on the bed before she had stepped into the shower earlier that morning. As she was putting it on, the noise was confusing to her at first, however, the program reflex kicked in and the hidden knowledge flooded her mind.

She walked over to the control consol and wrote a quick email saying that she wasnt going to be able to do the warps today as she wasnt feeling that well and was going to go home to her parents. She knew they would believe her since she has faked this situation a few times so that it wouldnt raise any flags for her excuse to be checked out.

She warped herself into her room at her parents home. She looked around at the room, her parents kept the room as if she was still in high school. This was no longer her life nor did she really ever care for it. But now that her quantum signature put her in her room, she pulled out her blackberry and pressed in the sequence and fed it a bit of her quantum thereby activating the OC Warp.

She walked into the room and greeted the team members that were already there with hugs and quick kisses. The room was cold so she avoided sitting down right away and made a point of greeting her other team members giving them long hugs.

As the meeting starts, she sits in the luxurious and maybe too comfortable chair where she listens and observes. She tries to commit the important details to memory as any written record would be bad if it was ever found.

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It was late morning for Sean when the call finally came in. He'd known it would the minute he saw the reports of the Bahrain incident last night. He had even requested instructions during the evening, but it had taken them almost 10 hours to send out the call. He arranged his Eufiber into something appropriate, and grabbed the second pizza from the night before and waited for the warp. In the middle of his third piece the hole opened in front of him and he stepped through pizza box in one hand and a slice in the other.

Looking at the others arriving he sat at the table and put the box down lid open so that others could see and grab some if they wanted, and poured himself some of the tea that Callum was drinking, but left off the sugar. "Morning all."

He smiled and was a little surprised by the warmth of the hug from Void. Most of the team still seemed pretty stiff with professionalism, but he figured they'd warm up to each other once they put their lives in each others hands a couple times. It always seemed to go that way. Unless the team got wiped out that is. He didn't think that would be the case here though, these people were all pros.

He finished off what cold pizza the others didn't take and helped himself to a couple danishes as well, and waited for the discussion to begin.

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Set to the song The Secret Agent , by Philip Glass (If you don't want to use the link I can send you the file...).

Somewhere beneath Paris, in the depths of a catacomb long forgotten The Fool meditated in his lair. Candlelight flickerd yellow off of ancient brick walls hidden in the bowels of a labrynthian system of tunnels, open chambers and stairs.

In his inner sanctum he sat in Lotus while egyptian frankincencse drifted through the air. From somewhere the faint echo of an orchestra paced through haunting arpeggios.

His hands moved of their own accord, shuffling the deck over and over until suddenly he stopped. Methodically he drew three cards face down and put them in a row. One by one he turned them over. The Universe card. The Magician and the Ten of Swords.

With a deep breath and a sigh, the masked figure stood up and pressed a small button opening a warp. A moment after stepping through, the small device lit up, vibrating with the call.

"You summoned?" he querried to no one in particular.

He is dressed in a cloaked robe from head to toe of the deepest black. His face is hidden within the long shadows cast from the raised hood. When everyone has assembled he steps forward to take his seat. As he does so his clothing begins to melt, the cloak turning into a leather greatcoat with a wide upraised collar.

Underneath the open great coat one can see many clips of ammunition and elaborate holsters protruding with the grip handles of a pair of very large handguns. Behind one shoulder, two twin rapiers with slender full tangs shoot out diagonally through a hole cut in the jacket for them.

A grinning white mask covers his face, frozen in mirthful expression with black hollow eyes. As he pulls back the melting hood a long blood red pheasent feather sprouts from his Robin Hood like cap.

When Void hugs and kisses his cold cheek, the mask flushes a deeper shade of pink.

"Thank you, madaam."

His voice has an eerie quality to it, though it is difficult to pin down what. Something about it feels like it tickles at one's mind and he radiates a palpable aura of quiet menace.

During the meeting he says nothing and begins to scroll through the targets complete file once it has downloaded to his PDA.

,,
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Originally Posted By: Callum Uallas
He listens to the information download and finally asks a single question, "What's the time table? "


Ms. Baxter cleared her throat before she answered. "Basically the answer would be yesterday.", she smiled nervously. "Of course this is not possible so your time table will be as fast as possible within the missions parameters. Dropping an A-Bomb at the three supposed places may cover the part of killing him but not the part about being discreet. It is paramount for OC that you not only kill him but also make sure that no one has a clue who killed him."
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Callum smiles, "Yesterday would certainly be easier with a temporal manipulator on the team, but I suppose we have to work with what we are given. Dead, no clues, ASAP. Anything else while we're out? Gallon of milk maybe?"

Inwardly Callum frowned, he had no problem infiltrating a group like the Directive but these little assassination side missions were on the edge of what he was willing to do. If Omega didn't know about his past and, more importantly, Molly, he would tell them to shove off and take his chances. For his daughter though he'd do whatever it took, he'd be a hired killer if it meant keeping her safe and happy.

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The greetings and re-aquaintances completed, Nosferatu grabbed a plate of pastries and sat down to eat them. A man...a vampire cannot live on blood alone. How he wished he could, becuse it would mean he was less human. Evolving towards the immortal creature he so longingly desired. He had to push those thoughts out of the way, there was business to conduct.

Quote:
It is paramount for OC that you not only kill him but also make sure that no one has a clue who killed him."

No clue about his killers? There goes that idea. Nosferatu had plannned to use the occasion to drain another of their life force by drinking their blood. A simple monstrous act. Too bad my teeth leave marks.

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Right now she is lounging in a chair at a table. She doesn't know where she is, but it doesn't matter. It's no more important than who she is. The face she's wearing is pretty, its body alluring if conservatively dressed. It belonged to a TV anchor on the local news. Long black hair, latina tan, deep brown eyes. Details. Distractions.

She is listening to the briefing, and to the responses of the others. She is feeling the electrical pulse through what passes as her body. It is like a heartbeat. Did she ever have a heart? Details. Distractions.

She is looking at each in turn, reviewing what she knows. There's 'Nosferatu.' She can never think of his name without mentally putting derisive little quotes around it. He confounded her; impressing her with his air of authority and power, but repelling her with his bizarre addiction to childish fantasies. She is finding it mildly interesting to note that her reaction to Nosferatu is an echo of her feelings about the Teragen movement as a whole as well. She is wondering if there's a connection there. Details. Distractions.

There is the fool...despite being a name, she sometimes forgets to mentally capitalize it for him. It is hard for her to see him as a 'person' sometimes. He's too much of a force of nature. An oracular statue, perhaps...known to randomly spout useful information, but otherwise impenetrable. She is finding it strange that such a being would be so seemingly trusted by Omega. She is wondering what the true relationship between The Fool and Omega is...but only briefly. Details. Distractions.

She is seeing Cherub, the svengali. He strikes her as similar to Nosferatu in his own way. Finding a road to power in the utter subordination of his self to his fantasies. Subordination, or synthesis? Perhaps it was a merging process, in which he became the object of his fantasy. She is finding that an interesting idea...less flawed than subordination, but still ultimately limited by its fixation on strictly human experience. Details. Distractions.

Callum, the family man. His shadows run far deeper than mere expressions of his eruption. His daughter is both a potentially fatal weakness and a source of strength for him. Of everyone in the team, he is the one whom she is having an emotional response to. She is feeling a stirring of sympathy for him. They all keep deadly secrets...but Callum has to keep his from someone who trusts him completely. Details. Distractions.

And there is Void. The 'other girl.' She is intrigued by Void's infiltration of Utopia. By her successful representation of an ordinary person in full public light, while masking an assassin with one of the most murderous, horrifying abilities she has ever seen. True of all of them, of course...but many of the team had 'cover identities' where violence was accepted; even encouraged. She is wondering how difficult Void finds the living of two such disparate lives. Details. Distractions.

She is thinking about the assignment, gauging her response. It is both a vague relief and a vague concern that the notion of assassinating what was essentially a kid with a big brain does not elicit an emotional reaction from her. Would it have before? Details...distractions.

She is speaking; asking the question on her mind after hearing what the others have asked. "He's superintelligent. Does he know we're coming?"

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Originally Posted By: Callum Uallas
Callum smiles, "Yesterday would certainly be easier with a temporal manipulator on the team, but I suppose we have to work with what we are given. Dead, no clues, ASAP. Anything else while we're out? Gallon of milk maybe?"


Ms. Baxter nervous smile reached a new level of insecurity which she hastily tried to wipe away by rearranging her glasses.

"Of course not. I strongly suggest to remain on topic.", she gave Callum a schoolteacher like look.

Originally Posted By: Lily

She is speaking; asking the question on her mind after hearing what the others have asked. "He's superintelligent. Does he know we're coming?"


Relieved that someone was asking "right" questions Ms. Baxter assumed a more comfortable posture and proceeded to answer. "We can only assume that his Intelligence does give him a very intricate insight on who is trying to manipulate him and if so how. He has so far managed to escape Project Utopia, Proteus and Teragen - here namely the faction called Casablancas. Expect the worst."
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She is nodding at Baxter's assessment, and adding, "What about friends, family? Do we know who he associates with, or who he has associated with in the past? Phone records from his old place in Sydney?"

Paranoid. Anger issues. Refuses to accept authority. Blind spots.

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Void looks from her left to her right at the other members of their team. To her the target isn’t as much a concern as it is the other three members of his entourage. "I see that the others are concerned about the target itself, however, we also have to consider his '3 like minded' associates. Because no matter how you look at it, 5 verse 1 is a landslide of a battle, however 5 verse 3 is a more of a battle and not so much an assassination. Therefore, what do we know about their patterns? How many times a day do they meet with the target? What are their power structures? Obviously we must have a group of watchers that have gathered all that relevant data."

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(Before)

On his way out the door Tom used his PDA to email that he was "wouldn't be beepable today" with no explaination. Occassionally he got in trouble for doing that but only occassionally.

Originally Posted By: Savar_Void
She walked into the room and greeted the team members that were already there with hugs and quick kisses. The room was cold so she avoided sitting down right away and made a point of greeting her other team members giving them long hugs.
Cherub with an "innocent" smile gives back a long hug as well and with a not-so-innocent wink lets her know they could go further.
Originally Posted By: Callum Uallas
Callum makes a face, clearly irritated that by Ms. Baxter's attitude. As she continues he leans over to Cherub and whispers, "She'd be kinda cute if it weren't for the stick stuck up her butt."
He whispers back, "Think of her without any clothes".

A detail pops up in his thinking that he'd skipped past the first time. It is paramount for OC that you not only kill him but also make sure that no one has a clue who killed him.

Cherub says,

"Question. You said to make this clueless, does that mean we should just make him disappear or do you want him publically dead?"

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Mrs. Baxter had a slender healthy look. He found himself staring at her supple neckline, wondering if she would be appreciative of sharing eachother's lifeblood.

Quote:
"Think of her without any clothes".

Nosferatu suppressed a chuckle. Mrs. Baxter had to be a freak in the sack. A woman like her cut loose once away from the stuffy confines of the office and duty. Most 'normal' people were like that...given the proper...stimulation.

Nosferatu had a question of his own for her:

"Do we know what powers his associates bring to the table? I would hate to see us unprepared, should we encounter them."

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The bombardement of questions seemed to be her element and Ms. Baxter immediately responded as sharp as she could.

Originally Posted By: Lily
She is nodding at Baxter's assessment, and adding, "What about friends, family? Do we know who he associates with, or who he has associated with in the past? Phone records from his old place in Sydney?"
Originally Posted By: Savar_Void
Void looks from her left to her right at the other members of their team. To her the target isn’t as much a concern as it is the other three members of his entourage. "I see that the others are concerned about the target itself, however, we also have to consider his '3 like minded' associates. Because no matter how you look at it, 5 verse 1 is a landslide of a battle, however 5 verse 3 is a more of a battle and not so much an assassination. Therefore, what do we know about their patterns? How many times a day do they meet with the target? What are their power structures? Obviously we must have a group of watchers that have gathered all that relevant data."
Originally Posted By: Nosferatu

Nosferatu had a question of his own for her:

"Do we know what powers his associates bring to the table? I would hate to see us unprepared, should we encounter them."

"His parents are dead, both died in a car accident when he was 12. He has no other siblings. Being the typical talented nerd his social background isn't that much developed. We assume that he wasn't the only one invited to that facility. It is very likely that his associates were all part of a Proteus experiment or something along that line of thought. Our third Proteus agent, besides Void and Mr. Fool disappeared since the Bahrain incident...", she looks around the table as if she had said something she shouldn't have and continued quickly.

"His erratic movement across the globe gives us reason to presume that he has found a way to shield his Quantum signature from our scanners. The same goes for his associates. As of now we know nothing about them. This, however, could be solved if our two remaining Proteus agents could put their efforts in finding out more about Heidelberg.", before even waiting for an answer she picked up the next question and responded.

Originally Posted By: Courier

Cherub says,

"Question. You said to make this clueless, does that mean we should just make him disappear or do you want him publically dead?"

"We want that no one asks questions. It is still our advantage that he hasn't opted to go public, yet... should he choose to do so, then your assignment has just gotten even more difficult. As you see, time is of the essence.", she finished her lecturing and smiled a little victoriously at the professionals.

"Any more questions?", her voice sounded as if she wasn't expecting any.

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Originally Posted By: NoFate_Void
Looking around to see if anyone else was going to speak up, Void decides to go first, "Are his three associates sub-targets or do we avoid at all costs?"
Cherub gives an innocent smile and adds a choice,

"Erase if they get in the way."
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Sean nods at Cherubs' statement, but adds, "Avoid them if possible. If they start dying suddenly, it will spook the target and he will go to ground and make our job much more difficult." Looking serious he adds, "It's one thing if the mega smarty deduces that someone might be coming after him and entirely another if he knows someone is out to kill him."

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,,
Quote:
"We want that no one asks questions.

"Would a dead body without visible marks work?" Nosferatu had the ability to kill without leaving a mark on the body. An ability which led Omega to seek him our for recruitment.

"I guess what I'm saying is: What would you like us to do with his body?" He paused. "Do we even leave a body for forensic peeps to investigate?"

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"We want no evidence to be found. I suppose leaving no body would make it far more difficult to find out how he died.", Ms. Baxter replied.

"As for his friends... Since we have no data on them I suggest to investigate on your owns and report to me. Does 24 Hours suffice? Depending on your results we will adjust your mission parameters.", Ms. Baxter made some quick notes on her clipboard and looked as if she was ready to leave.

"I'll be at my office. You know how to contact me. Thank you very much."

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Callum nods and grimly says, "A body is the strongest piece of evidence we could leave behind, I suggest that regardless of the eventual method of execution we dispose of the body by way of one of Void's warps. Then, as Cherub suggested, we may be able to cover it up with the talents of Ms. Grey."

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"If he's so reclusive, I doubt much if any impersonation would be needed. Still, I could put in an appearance for him somewhere he's known to go," Gray agrees. "It would delay rumors of his death, and complicate trying to determine when he disappeared and from where."

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Callum nods, "That's what I was aiming for, with no body things get difficult to investigate, with a dopleganger roaming around things get even more muddled."

He scratches at his chin, realizing suddenly that he had not shaved this morning. "Ms. Baxter, before you go, does the target maintain his pre-eruption life? You said he has not made his eruption public, has his baseline self remained active or has he gone underground?"

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Ms. Baxter stopped at the door turning around just enough to make eye contact with Callum. "He is too aberrated too maintain his former life. The only evidence of making contact with his former life is a short OpNet-correspondence with his Tutor at the Berlin Humboldt University. He submitted a file with his insights on Quantum Physics... quite impressive if you understood what it is about. That was roughly 6 months ago, but I can provide you with the file if you need it."

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Nos harumphs, and mumbles something about hating physics in high school. "If you find anything of use in that report, you can fill me in later. I'm not in the mood for a headache."

Once Mrs. Baxter leaves, Nos speaks again. "I don't know about the rest of you, but I am going to poke around the supply room."

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The Fool stands as Ms. Baxter exits, giving her a small bow.

Addressing the rest of the team he begins, his voice seeming almost to come from within one's head.

"The Players are assembled, and now the grim game may begin."

He pulls from inside his coat one of the cards he had drawn mere moments before within his hidden sanctum and holds it up for the others to see. It is the Magician and he lays it down upon the table's smooth surface.

"This foe we face must not be under-classed." he began in a variation of iambic pentameter. "The power of transsubstantiation, the philosopher's stone is in his grasp. Carefully we must strike from afar, for whatever element that we should use, becomes his ally true. Death must visit him a stormcrow swift, lest the tables be turned against us."

,,
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Cherub nods and says,

"Sounds a lot like me... that could make things interesting."

Originally Posted By: Nosferatu
Once Mrs. Baxter leaves, Nos speaks again. "I don't know about the rest of you, but I am going to poke around the supply room."
"Agreed."
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Sean nods at the Fool's words. "Well, I can certainly strike from a distance with considerable force. I can also be invisible so he won't even know I'm around. Unfortunately, I'm not so good at tracking down people like him. Therefore, I'll wait until you point me at the target and then make his life difficult. In fact I would suggest at least a double attack if we can arrange it. I can make one other person invisible. Perhaps, Void and I can get within range invisible and both strike at once?"

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"We each have our talents that will brought to the table given whichever situation we find him in. My concern at the moment is locating him."

Void begins to read over the background material that was given to everyone via their pda's.

"A person who wishes to not be found will usually go one of two directions. Option one, hide in plain sight so that the people you are hiding from pass by you expecting you to be somewhere else. The other option, is to go underground. Having been tainted, and his intelligence amplified by his quantum energies as well as his ego being reshapped, I would suggest that the first option is the more likely."

Void begins marking down the known locations that Newton has been seen.

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"But he's not just trying to keep his head down," Gray points out as she shuffles a page of the report on her PDA.

"Our friend has an agenda. He's trying to accomplish something. That makes him easier to find."

She has a good poker face. An excellent one. Even so, she lifts her eyebrow at something she's reading.

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"The more you know the less knowledge seems to matter...but no matter..." The Fool muses.

"Still...I cannot help but think that a little more such knowledge should light our way. Therefore, if none do protest, I shall depart and further our quest."

The Fool holds up black-clad fingers to emphasize his soliloquy.

"The subjects of my search shall be: One. Any information regarding the Proteus facility masquerading as an institute of learning as well as any files relating to our mock-Newton. What exactly was it that he was doing there?"

"Two. Any information regarding our missing infiltrator."

"Three. Whether or not we need be concerned about Proteus interfering with our assignment...if the target's intentions are indeed to expose the conspiracy, then it won't be long ere the black dogs will be well nipping upon his heels."

"Regarding my investigation, I shan't delay its presentation, but shall return, twenty-four hence."

,,

"Objections?"

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