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Aberrant: No Fate - Chapter 1: Innocence


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The Fool doffs his hat with a low and grandly sweeping flourish, revealing that the mask he wears is molded around most of his head. The motion of his bow is circular and after reaching its nadir his arm continues fludly upward. As it does, the black greatcoat melts back into a cloak, the hem of which draws up and around him like a Dracul's cape. Just before the impenetrable blackness reaches up to conceal his face, the mask seems to come alive, its features distorting into a toothy cheshire grin before he is enveloped in darkness and implodes into nothingness.

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Sean gets up from the table and heads off to requisition a bit of equipment for the mission. He is looking wanting a gadget that will allow him to teleport. That might just increase odds of survivability greatly as well as the potential chances of success. He mutters to himself in the hallway, "Lets, see if I have enough pull around here yet to get it."

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Roughly 24 hours later the group gathers again at the table in OCs Headquarters. While Nosferatu, Cherub and Sean spent some time requesting some gear for the mission which they got provided with and some little time to test directly for its effective use, The Fool and Gray tried to gather as much information as possible about Newtons supposed hiding place.

Ms. Baxter waits impatiently for the last one to arrive before she reopens the briefing. Taking a deep breath she greets everyone with a barely noticable nod and says, "I hope we haven't wasted too much time on this. At worst you may have to split up in order to get him but I strongly recommend not to. We managed to find out some minor details about the persons that had contact with him - I spent almost the whole day and night sorting this material." Ms. Baxters tiredness was evidently underlined by some nasty rings under her eyes. Once again the holographic projector hums to live and shows several photographs taken by surveillance cameras.

"He was at the Amp Room in Ibiza - met with Andy Vance and Count O.", the pictures show him talking with Andy and leave the impression that both Novas are fairly good acquainted with each other.

"This picture is yet unconfirmed but it shows someone with Newtons stature entering this old church near Dublin, Ireland. The second person you see at the door could be Corbin. Our experts are still trying to enhance the quality of the picture in order to get a 100% identification."

"And the last picture...", Ms. Baxter quickly double checked her clipboard, "shows Newton entering the Blackburn Hotel in New York. Thats a well known Teragen locale if I'm not mistaken?", Ms. Baxter directed her question at Gray and Nosferatu.

The dates of the pictures are all taken within the last 3 Months. The latest is the one showing the old church.

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"The Blackburn? I have been there frequently, and so has Gray." nosferatu clearly looked troubled. "If that is the case, then Gray should have found some information. If not, I will see what I can discover. And he met with Count O...That could mean that he's trying to gain more allies."

"For now, I suggest we start at his most recent location, and move backwards. When the time comes for us to go to the blackburn, I suggest the Utopian, Proteus and Directive operatives stay away. The last thing we need is for the Teragen to start questioning Gray and I as to why we are associating with these factions."

"Any Objection?"

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"I can shed some light on that," Gray says with the same neutral quality she says most things in when between 'characters.'

"He considered joining the Teragen briefly. His time in the Blackburn and with high ranking Teragen members was related to a recruitment effort. He finally decided not to though, apparently of the opinion that the Manifesto was a self-serving attempt by Divis Mal to start a cult of followers."

She looks up from the paper she's reading.

"The Harvesters are still after him though. He has developed technology that can interact with nodes and quantum energy. I'm not sure how much he's actually been able to build yet, if any."

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Callum lays out a pair of maps on the table. The maps are printed on glossy transparency "paper" and laid over plain white paper to be easily readable. "Folks, I found something extremely suspicous. Here we have the movements of our target, seemingly random and erratic." Callum indicates the first of the maps.

"And here," he says indicating the second, "Are the most recent supposed locations of on Caroline Fong. I'm sure some of you are seeing it already but ..." Callum lays the first map over the second, "As you can see they are identical, one hundred percent the same. I'm sure you all realize this is no co-incidence, and unless Newton has got booty call privledges they are probably working together for some reason. I think our threat level just went up.

"Further, the Directive has been pouring over the footage of the Bahrain incident and they belive that Corbin was not present, that he was being impersonated by somebody else. To what end is unknown but my file indicates three possible culprits; Turncoat, Chiraben, and/or Copycat. Chiraben is Proteus and Copycat is independant. We don't have anything about Turncoat except that he may have infiltrated Proteus in the past. Lastly Copycat was seen in the Amp Room on the same day that Newton met with Orziaz and Vance."

Callum shakes his head and rubs at the the bridge of his nose, "I'm not an analyst so I can't read too far into this stuff, my talents lie in surveilance and stalking, and of course combat. Hopefully you all and make more sense of it than I."

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Cherub says,

"Well done. I'm afraid I don't have anything to add to the intelligence side, but I would like to add something about how Matter Chameleon works."

"Best use a big brutal effect rather than something fancy, especially something like an aggravated effect. In general, any effect you use on him you're handing to him. Chameleon burns through juice real fast and there's limits to how many effects you can become within a short time, both of which imply lots of us pounding on him rather than one stealthy attack."

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Callum shrugs, a look of bewilderment on his face, "Like I said, I'm many things but and analyst and all-around smart guys isn't one of them. Now if you need a decent black and tan come see me I can handle that but in the meantime I think I'd like to check out here," he points to the spot on the maps where the most dots appear. "Can you drop me on location Void? I think a little surveillance might garner us something worthwhile. At least I hope it will."

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Nosferatu nods at Callum. "While you are dropped over that location, I will head to the Blackburn Hotel. If Newton is following Caroline fong, I might be able to get us some unwitting allies to aid in our search. Geryon and the others want Caroline back, and if somone can convine them that Newton means her harm, they might just do our job for us."

"Right now though, I will follow up on the lead, and scout the location in case of his return. It is still too soon to get Geryon and the other involved. I also have a few baseline allies that can keep an eye out for him. They will believe whatever story I tell them, as to why they are to look out for him."

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A pinpoint of darkness explodes into the black cloak of the Fool unfurling into his presence. His teleportation is utterly silent, like the quiet of the grave and it is 24 hours to the second of when he departed.

"Verily I return with satisfaction merily, for while I searched ever warily, many clues were gleaned." he began.

"It would seem our errant alchemist was due for Heidleburg...nothing less than a Proteus trap. However much to the chagrin of our shadowy sister, the supposed trasnsport never arrived..."

"There is more!" he exclaims, holding up a gloved hand to forestall any questions or conclusions.

"Although the grim game of the grandmasters may be a zero sum affair, the facts do not in summation, all add up. The Powers that Be have seen to inform me that the erstwhile aeroplane transporting the candidates did suffer calamity over the Northern Sea, and crashed, duly into an icy grave. The aforementioned error in arithmatic comes to light when one considers what a greivous detour indeed it would be to fly such a route from Berlin to Heidleburg."

He draws a dagger with the tips of two fingers and flips it lazily thought the air where it lands point first on one of the clear maps.

"May I suggest we begin our search here, in Denmark."

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Sean chuckles at this speech. "So you are saying that something is rotten in the state of Denmark?" He wondered to himself not for the first time if the Fool took time to come up with his speeches or if he'd been doing it so long that he could just sound that way at the drop of a hat. Not that it really mattered. At first he'd been very uncomfortable with having someone so eccentric on the team, but the odd man was beginning to grow on him now that he could see results.

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Looking at the map and seeing that it is mostly water in that area, "We could rent a boat first and I could transport that through the portal and then we could recon the rest of the area." Void looks to Nos for approval, "Do we wish to split the team evenly to investigate Denmark and this area here Nos?"

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Nosferatu nods to Void. "We should only split the team if we can rapidly reassemble it, should we encounter Newton. Otherwise we risk having to make our move without a complete team." He frowns at that prospect. "We may only get one chance at this. If we fail, he may go to ground and we will spend the next year looking for him."

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Sean sighed. It was going to be wet and very cold. While they waited he shifted his eufiber into a nice wet suit. Water was not his element, it would dampen his most potent attacks. Grumbling he headed to his locker and sorted through his belonging and selected a several devices and attached them to the belt and bandoleer that he formed out of his eufiber. He sighed again and said to himself, "Well, best to be as prepared as possible." Then he went back to the conference room to rejoin the others as they assembled their strike force.

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Ms. Baxter smiled as she saw the team starting to form plans and "warm up" a little.

"I can provide you with a self-inflatable military standard, kevlarcoated boat with engine. You should be able to carry it in its compressed form, its not larger than a rucksack. Just pull the cord and your good to go.", she made some quick notes on her clipboard.

"Mr. Nosferatu - we can feed your PDA with the signature of one of your teammates. I suppose Mr. Callum or Mr. Sean would be your best choice. It will teleport you straight to their location instead to HQ.", smiling briefly she proceeded to feed her computer with some commands.

While the strike team prepared for the drop into the northern sea Void opened a Warp to the Blackburn Hotel. Nodding to the others Nosferatu quickly steped through and appeared in his personal Quarters in the midlevels of the Hotel. With his task only on his minds Nosferatu briefly dismissed his followers and retainers which had been longingly waiting for their masters return.

At the basement Nosferatu coincedently bumped into a very displeased looking Geryon. Before Nosferatu could say anything Geryon blarted at him, "I can't f***ing believe it! We got the wrong ziplicker!", furiously he smashed the bar in the groundfloor café. Everyone sane enough dodged for cover fearing to fall victim to one of Geryons mad rampages.

-------------------

(at the HQ)

Shortly after Nosferatu left, Void opened another Warp placing it directly over the described location. The team had assembled in a semi circle around the Warp staring into the storming sea below. The drop would be approximately 100 Meters, just enough time for the selfinflatable boat to unfold.

"Who goes first?", asked Void smiling.

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Gray's answer is to step through...leaving the boat with the others. As she falls, her body turns a silvery grey color, and her legs and arms melt into her mass as her features turn smooth and vanish. What hits the water looks like a silver teardrop that's the size of a person.

Underwater she begins slithering through the water; undulating like a snake as she searches for anything unusual.

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Sean peers through, shrugs his shoulders and steps through. As he fell he put his arms tight to his side, legs together feet pointed trying to make as little impact as possible as he hit the water. Once in he took a second to adjust to the new environment then began to swim downward looking for the wreck of the plane.

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Cherub attunes his electronic gear (abandoning on this side of the gate what he can't, he's specifically bringing his company cell and a flashlight) and steps through. Just as he hits he becomes water of the exact color and content as the ocean. Above the water he looks like a human statue, below surface he just sort of merges with it.

He follows his comrades for a bit just to get an idea of what they look like and how they move, then he moves down into the depths.

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Callum looks out at the choppy waters of the North Sea. "Ugh, looks cold," he mutters. The bracer on his right wrist writhes and envelops him forming itself into a dry suit. Callum grabs the boat and leaps through the warp, pulling the auto-inflate on the boat immediately. As the rubber craft expands Callum contorts his body so that the boat lands flat in the water allowing him to spare contact with the figid waters below.

After a moment the remaining scuba gear is tossed out of the warp behind him and he catches it, donning the helment and breathing gear methodically.

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Picking himself off the floor, Nosferatu approached Geryon with caution. "It looks like that bar is not going to serve any drinks soon." Nosferatu wondered who it was that they had caught, but he had to be careful in what he said. He didn't feel like getting beat into a red paste by and angry Geryon.

"Nothing like a zipliker to get the blood moving." Nosferatu chuckled to Geryon. "But seriously, what the hell happened? Who did we get?"

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Geryon wiped some spit off his mouth and turned to face Nosferatu.

"Friggin' retard - shapeshifterbozo was impersonatin' Corbin. He doesn't talk, though. I tell ya - all those shapeshiftinbozos got a fracking mindjob. He prolly believes to be the real Corbin. Whatever, would've loved to smash him to pulp... but "He's too valuable", answered Geryon the last part impersonating Count Os voice.

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Smiling as usual The Fool steps through the warp with Mr. Uallas. In a seemingly impossible feat, he remains connected to the boat as it falls and expands. Just before it hits the water he jumps lightly into the air before landing softly on the bow with the tiptoes of a single foot.

A second jump propels him into the air like a spinning corkscrew, cloak melting away into a streamlined suit, flippers forming from his extremeties, and just for fun, an old style diving bell helmet forming around his jolly mask.

The Fool descends into the abyss with the others to find what awaits them.

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"So what is this guy's story anyways?" Nosferatu responded to the ranting Geryon.

Nosferatu always liked the way Geryon colored his language. "Why would a wacked-out shapeshifter be of use to Count O?" He gave a toothy grin to Geryon, his elongated canines flashing in the dim light. "If he was just some crazy zip I would use him for food." Nosferatu stops briefly to think.

"Thinking of blood has made me hungry. You up for a bite, Gerry?"

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Callum pauses in the process of checking his air system and watches the Fool dive into the water. Rolling his eyes he mutters in a remarkably good impersonation, "Look at me I'm crazy a loon but I can breathe underwater too! I shoulda gone with Nos, these guys don't need me slowing them down." None the less he finishes putting on the SCUBA gear and attaches a tether to the boat before preparing to drop into the water.

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Originally Posted By: Nosferatu
"Thinking of blood has made me hungry. You up for a bite, Gerry?"


"Sure thing, Nos - if you insist on looking for your limbs in cleveland should you touch me... And don't call me Gerry.", Geryon snarled.

"As for that guys story, he's some freak Proteus-whackjob or somethin' like that. The Count said he met him earlier this year in Ibiza - was tryin to kill a gal, 'nother shapewhacko former Upie and friends with that Slider-bitch.", Geryon shrugged as if he didn't care.

Then he smiled and said almost laughing, "Maybe its Turncoat?You know Goo-for-brains-Turncoat... But if you really wanna know whats up with that guy - go ask Count O. He's in his quarters upstairs. I got bored with him the moment he opened his mouth, stoopid wordsjuggler.", Geryon searched for something to smash.
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"I wasn't talking about taking a bite of you." Nosferatu flashed a toothy grin again. "Although if you ever decide otherwise, give me a call." He picked up a menu and started scanning it. "You going to order something?"

After eating several warmed, but still bloody steaks, and washing them down with saline solution he excuses himself from the table and heads up to see the Count.

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Upstairs Nosferatu entered Count Orzaizs' private quarters. The air was heavy with incencse and some oriental music was playing from an unlocateable source. Lighting a cigar the Count simply smiles at Nosferatu and offers him a seat with just a wave of his hand.

"How can I be of service to our most esteemed brother of Nova Vigilance? I suppose Geryon wasn't quite in the mood to talk with me?", the Count smiled like a cobra about to lash out.

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"I think Gerry wanted to turn a few tables into toothpicks." Nosferatu said without smiling. "He's pissed that we grabbed the wrong shapeshifter or something like that."

The Count was far more saavy that Geryon, and Nosferatu would have to tread carefuly. "He told me to talk to you about the '..freak Proteus-whackjob' as he called him. Gerry said he didn't have the patience to be debriefed."

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"I see... well, where to start? The so called "freak" is a Proteus hitman. He tried to kill a friend of a friend of mine in Ibiza. I just happened to be around and couldn't refuse to help.", he took a long draw from the cigar and continued,"We couldn't get our hands on him back then and I think its poetic justice that he has now stumbled into our little party here. I think there are quite a few Novas out there who'd love to get their hands on him. Before you ask - his name is Chiraben."

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Somewhere not too far from the Denmark shore.

The storming waters appear like a faint echo underwater. The vastness of the ocean extends underneath and loses itself in total darkness the deeper you get. After a short moment of orientation the team descended into the endless darkness scanning their surroundings for any unusual detail and the shipwrecked plane.

At about 300 Feet depth a faint shimmering circle glows straight ahead its shape reminding of a spiraling galaxy if you looked through a telescope to the stars. Its hard to tell if the circle is at the oceans floor or somewhere halfway. You guess its about another 100 Feet away from your position.

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He had heard of Chiraben. During debriefings from Callum regarding the Directiv's information of the Bahrain incident and subsequent movements. He didn't want the Count to know that however.

"Chiraben? Why have I heard that name before?" Nosferatu was playing a dangerous game. "So what was he doing in Bahrain impersonating Corbin? Have we figured that out yet?"

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"So you've heard of him?", the Count raised an eyebrow inquisitively.

"I suppose you got to know any potential threats. Hows the saying? Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer? As to your question, I strongly believe he was actually looking for Corbin himself suspecting that we had him, like the press stated on every occassion they had in order to dicredit Corbin and his credibility involving the Slider murder.", the Count paused for a moment and for a second he sounded like he actually cared for Slider. Hesitating before he continued he added, "We offered Corbin Asylum but he refused...".

Taking another draw from his cigar the Count appeared to be lost in thoughts for a while. You have the immediate feeling that he knows more.

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