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Aberrant: In the Beginning - Nathan Dayes


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March 23rd, 1998

9:00 AM Local Time

Seoul, South Korea

CIA Local Station

Nathan read through the report on the computer screen, fidgeting with a pen in his left hand and tapping it on the desk.

The report was on an Alex Williams, who was administrator at an oil derrick stations out in the Yellow Sea. The derrick was owned by Koch Industries, an American company that had secured special permission from the government of South Korea. Alex Williams had raised a red flag somewhere up the chain - Nathan wasn't sure where - and he was suspected of selling oil secrets to North Korea. Nathan knew all of this, because he'd written the report himself, which contained all the facts on the ground. He was double-checking it before sending it along.

The office was well-lit but not well-conditioned. It smelt faintly of smoke, an old habit from the days when CIA agents could smoke indoors. A heater buzzed as it cycled on. A door opened.

Besides Nathan, there were three others on station - Edward Brahms, Donald Wallace, and the man who'd just walked in, Station Chief Robert Harris. Robert nodded at Nathan as he walked past. "Report done yet?"

"Double-checking it now, sir."

"Good good."

"How're Ed and Donny?"

"Don's chatting with his pal at MI-6's station. They want to work out a deal for access to satellite intel. Edward, well... the doctors say he'll be fine, but he'll be out for a while."

"What did they say? One inch to the left and his neck would have snapped?"

"Even with the helmet. I don't know. Not how I want to go out, Nathan."

Nathan nodded. Edward had been riding his motorcycle around, and a few days ago his left front tire had blown out and thrown him into a wall. It made Nathan nervous to think about it. "Anything interesting on the wire?"

"Just what's on CNN."

"Think my report's ready, sir. I'm sending it to your PC now."

"Good. If the homeland sends us anything interesting I'll let you know."

"I'm stepping out for a cigarette, sir. How's the weather?" Nathan stood up from his desk, fumbling for his cigarettes.

"Glorious, Nathan. Beautiful day. The kind of day you remember."

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Nathan pulled his last drag into his lungs. The Chief was right, a truly gorgeous day. He looked around wistfully before going back inside.

When he got back to his desk, he found Donald waiting for him. He was tapping a file folder against his leg, and seemed agitated. When Nathan entered his office, before he could say anything, Don shut the door behind him and handed him the file.

"Look at these," he demanded sharply.

"What are they?"

Don shook his head. Pointed at the file.

Nathan opened the file. As he looked at the pictures, obviously taken from satellite imagery, Don explained.

"I made my deal with MI-6 about an hour ago. Since we are hardwired here for secure internet, they just routed access to my terminal. There will be some oversight, but basically we've got carte blanche."

Don didn't seem as euphoric as Nathan would have expected. The first image was an aerial of Seoul. Crystal clear, nice. The next was a city block that Nathan didn't recognize immediately.

"I ran it back four days, because these things can store data for up to a week. Can you imagine? Anywhere on earth, all of last week, and we can see it. I guess I had Edward on my mind, and I wanted to see how close I could pinpoint the accident."

Nathan glanced up at Donald.

"I know, but hell, it's just a test run. I wanted to see how far in we can zoom."

The next picture showed Edward on his motorcycle. Again, the picture was clear as a bell. Impressive display of human achievement. The last one...

Nathan looked at Donald, a puzzled expression on his face.

"So, you see it too." Donald's relief was evident. "I'm not crazy."

The final image showed six blurry figures, recognizably human, sheathed in a blue light. He was obviously in the process of running, but all the traffic was moving, and there was no motion distortion of the cars, or Edward's motorcycle. To have this kind of distortion..

"I ran it through some modelling programs," Donald confessed, "and the computer estimated that the guy was moving somewhere around....uh, Mach 8." Donald stared at the floor.

Nathan looked back at the satellite image. The figure had his hand raised, and a frozen streak of light connected his fist to Edward's front tire. Nathan shook his head, unbelievingly. He looked at Donald.

"What is this?" Donald asked. He seemed helpless, like a child.

"What the fuck IS this?"

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Nathan took the photos in hand. He held them aloft, rubbing his temple. "It's not April yet - " he began, then he looked at Donald's face. "Not a joke? No? All right. Atmospheric distortion. Some kind of refractory air pocket. The blue beam of light..."

Nathan sat down on top of his desk, an old habit when he was sure he wouldn't be sitting for long. "Some kind of hidden taser. I've seen them hide one-shot guns in Zippo lighters. ... no, that sounds dumb. A blue beam? Sure it's not just a smear, or...?" He looked at Donald's face, and stopped. He turned back to the photograph.

After a moment, he stood, and sat down in his chair. He pulled open a drawer and took out a bottle of Magic Spook Pills as they were affectionately known on station, and 'Advil' as they were known by normal people. He shook out one, thought for a moment, then shook out another. He dry-swallowed them.

"Have you shown these to Bob? If not, I think you should. What I'd like to do is check out the scene where Ed's motorbike crashed. See if there's any clues... any whatever. Then I'm going to figure this out. There's an explanation in there somewhere. If Ed was attacked then whoever did it better pray the cops find him before we do."

Nathan stole another look at the photograph. It almost seemed to taunt him. Yes, throw your training at me, Nathan. Throw everything you learnt in college and the way you've taught yourself to think. Give me your best shot. Maybe it'll be enough to understand. But maybe not, huh?

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The next few hours, many things happened. A case file was opened, approved by Nathan Dayes. Four agents went to the scene of the accident disguised as a road crew, and went over the road with a fine-toothed comb. This action was also signed off by Nathan Dayes. More satellite imagery was requisitioned by Donald, but he needed a supervisors initials on the form, and there was the ND for anyone with a clearance to see.

Don showed the images to Chief Harris. Harris said he would look into it. As Don left the Station Chief's office, Robert Harris was picking up the phone to call Arlington. Forty minutes later, a phone call was made from CIA headquarters to London. Balls were rolling.

An hour after that, the road crew was called off the scene. The case file was shredded a mere 6 hours after its creation. Donald Wallace recieved an email informing him of his transfer to Tanzania.

Nathan was typing yet another RFI (Request for Intelligence) form when his computer screen went dead.

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Nathan stared at the screen. For a moment, he thought to curse the fortunes of Microsoft, then he thought better of it. He sat back, thinking.

Being called back so soon had sent up a red flag in his brain. This was adding two more. Something was going on outside his circle of observation and he didn't like it.

He stood up, breathing in and out, and sticking a pen behind his ear. Coach it carefully, he thought. Make it seem innocent.

He entered the Station Chief's office, and smiled. "God damn computer's gone dead, boss. Weirdest thing. Fucking Microsoft. They should authorize a covert on Bill Gates one of these days. You having any troubles?"

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The Section Chief's office was arrayed with photographs of Bob Harris with many famous, or merely well-known people. His 'ego wall' was impressive. There he was with Ronald Reagan. Charleton Heston and Bob, hunting. Shaking hands with Khaddafi. At a dinner with the Bin Laden family. Here he was with the President, and Mrs. Clinton. The sign of a man who cares, and cares deeply, what the 'higher up's' think of him.

Bob Harris looked at Nathan Dayes like he was a bug. A bug from another planet, in fact. Administrative work in the CIA was dog-eat-dog, and one learned to internally justify ones orders. Especially when they made no sense. That meant something truly bad, and this was truly bad.

"Am I having a problem. Yes, Nathan, I am having a problem. A problem that I cannot solve. Shut the door."

Nathan did as he was told.

"I don't know what you did. They won't tell me, and I won't ask. But you're out," Harris said.

Nathan couldn't help the shock that detonated on his face.

"What do you mean, out?" he asked.

"Out, Nathan, out," Harris snapped, "out of the building, out of the game, out of a job."

"But...but, that's"

"That's how it is, Nathan," the chief told him curtly, "it doesn't matter why, or how. It's just real."

Nathan simply stared at his former boss.

"Now, here's how it's going to happen," Harris continued, "You will be escorted from my office to the airport. You will not go home. You will not return to your office. Your flight leaves at 20:45, and when you return to the States, you will be discharged, your clearance revoked. Questions? Good, because I don't have any answers for you. Ah, gentlemen, right on time."

The last was directed to a pair of field agents that entered the office as if on cue. Nathan knew them, had directed their operations before. Now they regarded him with hooded eyes, hostile eyes.

"Get him out of here."

The ride to the airport passed in a blur. The sun was setting as they drove, and Nathan reviewed his day, his career, his life with a growing sense of disbelief. Over. Like it never happened.

The phone in the car rang as they were pulling into the airport dropoff lane. One of the agents answered. He glanced at Nathan.

"Authorization, please." He waited. Nodded. Visibly perplexed, he offered the phone to Nathan.

"For you."

Nahan took the phone, looked at it for a moment.


A woman's voice answered.

"Hello, Nathan. I'm sorry that we have to meet in such circumstances."

The driver braked hard. A line of fire that crossed the sky shone upon the airport and the car like judgement.

Nathan was blinded for a second, then shaded his eyes and peered up into the sky. The growing shadows from the setting sun were gone. Everything was lit up like God had shone a spotlight on the earth. But, Nathan could see it wasn't a spotlight. It was a wave of blue energy, arcing over the earth and passing from west to east. It passed overthem with a crackling sound, and Nathan could feel his ears pop.

Dimly, from the phone:

"My god...he's done it..."

The light passed, and was gone.

Nathan raised a shaking handset to his ear.

"Who is this?"

"I'm sorry, Nathan, the most extraordinary thing-"

"Light across the sky?"

"Why- yes. You saw it in Seoul?"

"Yeah, here too. Where are you...and who IS this?"

"Things may have changed, Nathan. And not for the better. I don't have time to be coy.... I'm in London, and I'd like you to come here. I want to offer you a job."

Nathan reeled with all that had happened in the last hour, he was emotionally exhausted. Still, he mustered a reply.

"How do you know I need a job?"

After a long pause:

"Because I'm the one who got you fired. I need you here, working with us."

"Who is us, and for the last time WHO ARE YOU?"

"Us will have to wait. My name is Margaret Mercer. Please, Nathan, just come to London."

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Nathan looked at his escort, and then up at the sky. He rubbed his eyes.

"He's done it?" Does she have something to do with the lightshow? Or know who does? And she got me fired, too, over those photos, so she must have a reason why. If nothing else I want to be in the same room as her, when she tells me that reason.

"Okay, I have to go back to the States, and get debriefed. Once I am, you can give me a call. I'll head out to London and then I'd really like some answers. Are you good with that?"

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"There is no debriefing, Nathan. I've taken the liberty of having your flight changed. Really, there's nothing stopping you from coming straight here. Please. I can't talk more now, I'll see you in a few hours."

The line was dead.

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Nathan stared at the dead phone, and handed it back to the agent in the front seat. Okay, London it is. When someone who can get you fired, neutralize your debriefing and change your flight asks you to go to London, you go to London.

He sat back, waiting to arrive at the airport. I'll need a raincoat, I suppose. And an umbrella. Good sturdy umbrella. And, I think, my own private minibar, because I need a drink.

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The car pulled smoothly up to the curb. The agents ushered Nathan out of the car and into the airport. Some people still watched the sky. More had jammed into the airport lounges and bars to see the televisions.

One of the agents put his hand on Nathan's arm. He listened to his earpiece. He and the other agent exchanged looks.

"Now you're going to London?" The agent asked.

Before Nathan could respond, the agent answered himself.

"Of course you are, that's where we always send our rogue agents. Nathan, look." He stopped, and faced Nathan.

"This afternoon has been unbelievable. Suddenly your authorizations are cancelled, you're fired and sent back home. Scuttlebutt had it that you were in on the Alex Williams thing. In it up to your neck, and got caught." The agent looked at him a little shame-facedly.

"I don't think that anymore, if you're wondering. Look, I haven't responded. I can tell Harris that the light in the sky scrambled my reciever or something. This doesn't make the slightest bit of sense to me. If you want to go to London, go. But if you want to go to the States, I won't stop you." He looked at the other agent.

"I won't let Carl stop you either," he said.

The other agent grinned wickedly.

"Yeah, right. Nate, I agree with everything this numb-nuts just said. It doesn't seem right to me, either. What do you want to do?"

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"Ah, you two. You're princes in suits. And yeah, London awaits. There's something I need to take care of there."

Alex Williams. For some reason I thought it was me poking at Ed's accident and those photographs. Of course. Maybe he's got enough favors owed to land me in the shit. Well then, Alex, I'll return the favor soon as I can.

Nathan looked around the airport for a shop, and his gaze wandered over the television screens.

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News of the Galatea, and ensuing chaos, filled every screen. He watched the Fireman footage with the crowd of Korean nationals, and heard their exclamations of shock and surprise. The earthquakes, the fires, the tsunami in India... disaster after disaster reported in quick succession. Nathan smelled the fear in the airport.

His flight was called, and Nathan boarded the plane. As he boarded, he heard the announcement that all remaining flights were cancelled.

The flight was uneventful, a haven of quiet from the insanity on the ground. He landed at Heathrow 06:21 GMT

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Nathan tore himself away from the news with the greatest of reluctance. All throughout the plane ride, he was nervous, fidgeting with a pen, replaying the scene with the fireman in his head over and over.

Special effects. Has to be CGI, like in a Steven Spielberg movie. I remember those dinosaurs looking pretty real. Double-exposure photography. I need to get hands on that footage. Interview that guy. There has to be some explanation for it, like... like...

Like there was with the man who attacked Ed?

Yes. There's an explanation for that too. I can understand how it works if I just gather enough information and work at it long enough and...

And then, what, I'll explain the earthquakes and the tsunamis, and all that other stuff? You got a grand unified weird shit theory yet? My head's killing me. I need a drink. I need an entire bar.

By the time he'd landed, Nathan had two drinks in him and had a mild buzz. He looked around for someone holding a sign with his name on it, or a television playing the BBC so he could see what he'd missed when his bird was in the air.

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A lovely young woman approached him as he walked down the ramp. She exclaimed, "Hey!" and quickly gave Nathan a hug and kiss. As they rubbed cheeks, she murmured, "I'm from the Society, come with me please.

She kept her arm around his waist, under his jacket. She rested her head on his shoulder as they walked through the airport. As they walked, she talked quietly.

"Nathan, we have to hurry, if we're to be on time," she said.

He grinned and chuckled. He too, murmured softly.

"On time for what?"

She smiled and nodded.

"I don't know. My grandmother doesn't tell me everything."

They pulled slightly away from each other, and held hands. They walked this way to the exit, where she hailed a taxi. It pulled quickly to the curb.

The driver sped away without waiting for a destination. The woman turned to Nathan, and smiled.

"Nathan, this is Jon." The driver raised his hand in acknowledgement. "He's one of us. This car is clean. Still, I think you should hold your more serious questions for later. I'm Maxine, by the way. Maxine Mercer."

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It was lonely out on station; Nathan couldn't remember his last date, although he did remember it not ending well. So while he knew that Maxine's flirting was a front, it was a front that he let himself enjoy.

That all changed when she told him her name. Nathan wasn't quite bold enough to entertain thoughts about the granddaughter of the woman who'd cost him his job.

"Tell you what then," he said, keeping an eye out the window. "Tell me what you safely can. And then we'll see what questions I have."

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"Well, I'm not sure where to begin," she said. Maxine settled deeper into her seat, and leaned forward just enough that Nathan could see a hint of cleavage.

"The Aeon Society has been around since 1923. It was founded by my great-grandfather, Maxwell Anderson Mercer."

Nathan listened, surprised. His CIA training forced him to respond.

"Founded on July 18th, 1923, to be more precise. Started as a sort of Adventurers club, but evolved in the late thirties to a more politically active organization. They were very vocally anti-Nazi as early as 1932. Heavily involved in the promotion of the space program in the 60's, currently is focussed primarily with its disaster relief efforts, and working with the World Health Organization to combat the spread of AIDS, among other things."

Maxine closed her mouth. It would not do to forget that Nathan was a CIA agent handler, and a former field team leader. He almost certainly had tagged her as his 'handler'.

"Very good, Nathan. Exactly right. But the Society was politically active from the beginning. And we never burn a bridge, we always keep our ties. Grandmother has stressed this from the beginning."

Jon, the driver, turned off of the highway, and drove down a long country lane. He drove almost insanely fast, a habit that Nathan had seen before in englishmen when there was no traffic.

"The adventurers club, as you call it, was dedicated to searching for signs of the Paranormal. They travelled the globe, investigating every odd happening, every strange story."

Nathan thought of it for a moment.

"That must have been... interesting."

Maxine laughed, sincere amusement, Nathan thought.

"To say the least. At any rate, most of the stories and events had reasonable, scientific explanation. A few... did not."

Jon turned into a long driveway. Ahead, a wrought-iron gate separated the walled estate from the road. As they approached, the gate swung open. Maxine continued.

"When Hitler came to power, the Society was seen as a philanthropic organization that disapproved of his methods, because they were... But the search for paranormal activity did not stop, in fact it intensified. Hitler was also fond of the strange, the legend. Plus his organization was larger than ours"

They passed several large buildings. One looked like a dormatory, another was big enough for a gymnasium... bigger, even. They passed through, and Nathan saw a massive house on a hill beyond.

"The adventurers club, the paranormal investigations, just became more and more a private part of the Society. Grandmother calls it the Omega Directive. She wants you to be a part of it. And that's pretty much what I know." Maxine smiled, "Really."

The car pulled in around the fountain, and up to the front door. Jon killed the engine, and swung around to face the passengers.

"We're here!"

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Nathan stepped out of the car, looking around. Æon. I don't believe it. I never heard the slightest rumble out of them. And they've got a fully functioning kook squad.

He waited for Maxine and then took her lead, walking where she led him. If anyone waves an alien autopsy photo or a crystal necklace in my face I'm out of here, but... I can't explain what happened to Ed. Or what I saw on TV before my plane took off. If they can give me any kind of idea what's going on I'll take it in a heartbeat.

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Maxine led he and Jon inside. In the entrance hall, a split curved staircase led to the second floor balcony. She turned left, and led him through an elegant sitting room, into a hallway that opened into a conservatory. A dozen people stood around, talking quietly. A hushed anticipation filled the room. Maxine led Nathan up to a woman in her mid-sixties.

"Grandmother, may I present Agent Nathan Dayes?"

Margaret smiled up at him, briefly touched his hand. She lay a finger across her lips and motioned him to stand beside her.

The people in the room all turned, not toward the newcomers, but to the center of the room. Nathan felt the tension in the room building. A man with long blonde hair, in an overcoat, wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt that said 'Elf: The Other White Meat' slipped in a side door across from Nathan. He looked incongruous among the other attendees, who seemed dressed for a dinner party.

The man sidled up next to Margaret. His murmur was loud enough for half the room to hear.

"They're calling this guy Titan."

"Not now, Jack." She was irritated, Nathan saw.

"But this guy, this Johnny-come-lately...they are calling him Titan...on the news," Jack replied. If she was irritated, he was seriously pissed. He was big, Nathan could tell. Very big. The large coat and sweats had disguised it to some degree at first, but now Nathan realized just how massive this man was.

"Jack, now is not the time," Margaret said firmly.

"I know, I get it. But, I've been pretty patient for a long time, and I don't understand why we're waiting."

She turned and fixed him with her stare.

"We are waiting because I said to wait. Now is not the time, Jack. Hush, and be a part of this, or leave."

He grumbled under his breath, but joined the loose circle that was forming. Nathan looked around, and saw the same excitement on everyone's face. He asked Maxine, "What's going on?"

She grinned up at him.

"You'll see."

A moment passed, and Nathan was opening his mouth to ask another question, when he heard a faint keening. He listened closely, and thought the sound was growing louder. A gathering of light, subtle at first but quickly gaining intensity, formed in the center of the room. Nathan started, then looked closely.

The light was revolving, it seemed, and the keening was developing staccato interuption. He looked at Maxine, then Margaret. Neither looked back at him. The keening was louder now, and a whine had developed that made Nathan's teeth ache. His headache from the plane was returning. The light seemed now to contain a man, frozen as though in amber, in the act of falling backwards. Suddenly, the light and keening whine clapped into one, and the man fell onto the carpet.

A hushed murmur from the crowd. No one moved. Margaret whispered to Nathan.

"Help him."

Nathan started forward. He took the arm of the man, who struggled to stand, and helped him get steadily to his feet. The man stared at him wildly.

"Arthur? ...my god...Sir Calvin!" He looked around the conservatory.

"Arthur, where are we?" he asked Nathan.

Margaret stepped forward.

"Mr. Mercer. Be calm. You are safe, and at the beginning of what will prove the greatest adventure of your life. Please, sir, allow my granddaughter to take you somewhere to compose yourself. When you have done so, and had a drink, I will explain more to you."

Mercer calmed a bit, but still seemed very off balance. He looked at Nathan.

"But, Arthur how did you get here? And...where are we? What's become of Sir Calvin, Michael, the others?"

Margaret again saved Nathan from having to reply.

"Mr Mercer, this is Nathan Dayes, Arthur Dayes's grandson. This is the Æon Societies Omega Offices. I am your daughter, Margaret, whom you will father in 1932." She gazed at him steadily.

Mercer stiffened, then looked at Nathan closely. He nodded, and turned to Margaret.

"Madam, I am at your service. I will take that drink, now, please."

After Maxine had led her great-grandfather away, Nathan turned to Margaret and opened his mouth to start the flood of questions. He was interrupted before he even began.

"Margaret. I'm glad you have your Father back, but we have a busy schedule. I want to go on this." Jack looked anxious.

Margaret sighed. She nodded, and took Nathan's arm.

"Sorry your first day is so hectic. We'll answer questions after one more little errand. Come Jack, let's do this. I want to warn you, though, I've never been in love with 'Titan'. Too... arrogant. You need something different." Margaret allowed Nathan to escort her behind a scowling Jack. Nathan's thoughts were in a whirl. He barely paid attention to where they went. They were on a service elevator, going down, at one point. He thought.

They reached a large underground room. On one end of the room, half a dozen technicions worked on a bank of televisions. They seemed to show, among other things, Times Square in New York City, from many angles. Camera crews from the three major networks, as well as a smattering of cable news networks, lounged as they prepared for another background shot for the disaster footage. Another monitor showed the interior of a helicopter. Another three showed a twenty something man, hugely fat, wearing an overcoat. Nathan could make out the legend on his T-Shirt: Elf: The Other White Meat. He glanced at Jack. Jack wore the same outfit.

Jack, meanwhile, had taken control of the room. He motioned to a short black man that Nathan had not immediately seen. He whispered to him and pointed at a platform nearby. The black man nodded. Jack put on a headset, and walked over to the technicians.

Margaret watched with Nathan as Jack grinned and spoke.

"Ok, it's go time people. Shelby, are you there?"

On screen, the man wearing Jack's clothes raised his hand to his mouth, as though to cover a cough. Over the loudspeakers, Nathan heard his reply.

"Roger that, I'm ready."

Jack gave a thumbs up to one of the techs.

"Ray, you good?"

On the loudspeaker again: "Good as gold, Jack."

"Ok, then. We only have one shot at this, let's make it good. Cue the copter."

Nathan watched as the pilot suddenly turned the helicopter to the right. On another view, the chopper veered into screen above Times Square. One of the blades scraped a Coca-cola advertisement, and the chopper bounced wildly away.

"GOOD! Don't lose it! Dammit Ray, where are you?" Jack barked orders.

"Got it, got it. Stop worrying, Jack. And here it is."

Onscreen, the crowd screams in horror as the helicopter crashes into a flashing GAP advertisement. It hangs there, suspended.

"Where is the goddamned pilot?" Jack demanded.

As if by magic, the door to the copter opened, and the pilot spilled out. He barely managed to catch himself by the seatbelt. He dangled precariously.

"Pay attention, Shelby, that's you!"

The fat man on-screen suddenly screamed and clutched his head. Nathan took a step forward, reflexively. Margaret clutched his arm. "It's ok," she reassured him.

Jack was already on it again. He ran to the nearby platform, and crouched as if to leap.

"Ray, give me some special effects, what are you waiting for?"

On the screen, Shelby suddenly crouched down and burst into light. Jack threw the headset across the room, and shouted to the black man, "Go, go, do it!"

Jack disappeared. For a split second, the platform was empty. Then Shelby materialized.

Nathan looked back at the screen.

As the light faded, Jack sprung up from where Shelby had crouched, and leapt into the air, towards the helicopter. Margaret murmured into Nathan's ear.

"Don't judge him too harshly, he's been waiting for this moment since 1973, when we asked him not to go public with his abilities... ah, and here is the man of the hour. Shelby Eisenfaust, this is Nathan Dayes. He'll be working with us here, I hope."

The man shoved a PayDay candy bar into his mouth, wiped his hand on his sweats, and offered it to Nathan. He shook hands, bemused.

Margaret led Nathan down the hallway, into a conference room. She poured a sherry for herself, and asked him, "Ok, Nathan, what do you want first. Answers? Or a drink?"

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Nathan's mind raced.

Okay. A false bottom on the Scotty-from-Star-Trek teleporter, stage kit special effects, and pre-recorded footage. That explains that. Big guy could be on steroids; it'd explain his temperment. And that Mister Mercer... ah...

... I don't know.

Christ, my head hurts. I don't need a drink, I need my magic spook pills.

"No, answers first. I had a couple on the plane and I want to be nice and sober. Why'd you have me fired? What do you know about what I was working on just as I got fired? What was up with the Jolly Blonde Giant back there? 'Waiting since 1973?' Why now and not then? And waiting for what exactly? What's this have to do with the satellite and the - whatever, on the news? What's this about Arthur Dayes? Or Sir Calvin or Michael or Mr. Mercer? Why'd you tell him he was going to sire you in 1932 since by my wristwatch that was sixty-five God Damn years ago? And on the phone when the sky lit up I specifically remember you saying 'My God, he's done it.' Who did what? If you have ANYthing to do with those astronauts getting killed - "

Nathan caught himself. If she had anything to do with it then she could kill me with impunity. Watch yourself, Nate.

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Margaret smiled.

"Let's see. I had you fired so that you would be free to work here, with us. We've been watching your career for some time. Your great-grandfather was one of us, you know."

She pulled herself up to the desk, leaned towards him.

"There is no way I can tell you 75 years of this organization's history, so I shan't try. You are here because my father always told me that you would be here, the first person that he saw when he arrived. I told you before, not all the strange stories were just that."

She paused to take a drink of her sherry. She looked at her computer screen briefly. Then back to Nathan.

"My father is a time traveller, Nathan. Let's just leave it at that for now. He disappeared for several months in 1922 and '23. When he returned, he founded this Society. As I grew up, he told me stories of the future. Not just this one, but of a future far ahead of us. A future of evolved humans like Jack. Like the Fireman on TV today."

"The first one we know of was an Egyptian King, before the Pharoahs, named Zetanhkaton. He left a record that, if one has the knowledge to understand, she cannot fail to understand. At the end of the record, he talked of 'visiting the Kings of the Heavens'."

She drained the rest of her sherry, the first sign of stress that Nathan had seen thus far.

"One of my father's associates, Doctor Sir Calvin Hammersmith, built a device based- in part- on drawings in those records. He invited my father, and other associates, to a test demonstration of the device. It exploded during the test, and among other things, awakened in my father his travelling ability."

She poured herself another drink, and continued.

"In one of my father's friends, a man named Michael Donighal, the explosion brought forth something else. We believed then, and I believe now, that he became something different. Something much like Zetankhaton. He helped father found Æon, and for many years they explored the limits of his new abilities."

She stood and paced. After a moment, she continued.

"Arthur Dayes, your great-grandfather was there as well. Or, outside approaching on foot, but he too was caught in the explosion. He was my father's mentor for several years, and when Hitler came to power in 1933, he joined the Society and worked to bring down the Reich."

She sat back at the desk.

"During the war, we found another, an Englishman named Marlin Deacon. He did not join us, however. Michael also left the Society at this time. Since then, we have found several more. Jack, we discovered in Vietnam during the US offensive there. He joined the Society and agreed to keep his abilities secret. He wants to be a hero, to save the world. He abhorrs war. He believes in peace, but he learned the hard way, in Vietnam, that achieving peace requires an iron fist."

She looked thoughtful for a moment, then took a pen from the top of the desk and scribbled something on a pad. She looked back at Nathan,and her face grew stern.

"As for the Galatea. I have no way of knowing this, but Michael, and a few of the others like him we have found over the decades, pushed forward the idea of 'giving' the rest of the human race the chance at this next evolutionary stage. My father told me it was coming, and he never said how it happened. It is my belief that Michael found a way to share his gifts with the world. We had nothing whatever to do with the disaster."

She began to speak again, then looked at the computer screen. She leaned in, took a closer look. She waved Nathan around the desk.

"Look at this."

When he looked at the screen, he saw that the screen was white, and Chinese idiograms scrolled across the screen.

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He saw:

Originally Posted By: Computer Screen

我祈求這到達你。你的豫言全都成為現實。電腦向我談話。迄今為止,他們有四,並且聽說過十二更多。注意,他們傳輸 ‘風的召集’ 對著千年人。我不再能說,他們來。..

Margaret quickly printed the screen. As it printed, she looked at her watch, and back at Nathan.

"I'm sorry, Nathan. I need to speak to my father. We'll have to save any more questions for later. Please, just wait and watch before you decide we are all crazy. There will be a luncheon in a bit, to welcome some of the newly evolved people who have volunteered for observation and testing. Please go, and I will meet you there."

The office door opened, and Maxine entered.

"How is he?" asked Margaret.

"Confused and scared to death, but basically he's ok. He's a tough bastard," her granddaughter replied, "How's he?"

Margaret smiled.

"About the same, I'd say. Maxine, could you please escort Mr. Dayes to a guest room on the second floor. On the way, could you show him the office we have picked out for him, should he accept our job offer?"

Maxine nodded. She grinned at Nathan.

"Nathan? Care to freshen up before lunch?"

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  • 2 years later...

Nathan's story continues from the 'Chapter 3 - Pangaea' thread...

London Facility, Aeon Society - Sunday, April 12

The doctors and researchers looked nonplussed. They looked, one to another, for something to say. Near the end of the long table, a young man said, "Quantum? She said quantum?" He and his table mate talked exitedly, though quietly, amongst themselves.

The rest of the doctors resumed picking at their breakfast. Very quiet conversation resumed. The man next to him said quietly, "He tied it to quantum mechanics, in a memo last Wednesday. He's pumped. If it turns out that-"

A voice called out stridently.


Henri Mazarin stalked to the table. He glared around at them until his eyes stabbed at the young man at the end of the table.

"YOU! Evans. Or...something. WHAT DID YOU SAY TO HER?"

His anger was palpable. It radiated out from him like a true heat. He stood next to Nathan, who could feel it washing over him.

"In the MIDDLE. Of her briefing. YOU. Burst in and told her something. WHAT?"

The young man stuttered and stammered.

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Nathan coughed, as he rose from his seat. He put on his half-smile, his "I've decided to be courteous and you won't like it when I stop" smile.

"Doctor Mazarin. Nathan Dayes. I don't think we've spent a lot of time together! You might remember me. One of Uncle Sam's spooks. I'm the human mirror."

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Doctor Henri Mazarin's face went through a series of changes as he looked at Nathan. Warring emotions strove for mastery of the man's expression, and finally, barely, polite unctuousness won. He took a deep breath, brought his hands together in front of his chest, and spoke on the exhale:

"Mr. Dayes, hello. I'm sorry about that, just a missing colleague. Nothing to get worked up over, I am sure," he said smoothly, "Of course I know who you are."

He winced a bit, and said, "We are calling it 'reflecting signatures', but 'mirroring' already has a specific -"

"Reflecting quantum signatures," Evans, the young man from the other end of the table, interrupted.

Irritation flashed across Dr. Mazarin's face, briefly. Then he fell back into his role.

"I beg your pardon?" The young man shook his head, remained silent.

Mazarin looked at him for a beat, then smoothly turned back to Nathan.

"Mr. Dayes, what exactly can I do for you?"

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Click to reveal..
You will find that I am unorthodox in many ways that I interpret the rules. In this particular case, I modified Nathan's Manipulation score with his dots in Bureaucracy. It seems relevant to me.

Originally Posted By: Invisible Castle
Die roll for Nathan

Rolled on: 2010-09-05 20:10:38.851827
4d10 → [2,6,7,10] = (25)

I am also awarding 3 automatic successes for Nathan's dots in the Backing background, for a total of five (5) successes.

Nathan strode away from the table, but not before he heard a murmur begin behind him. He walked steadily through the cafeteria, not turning to see if Dr. Mazarin had followed. When he reached the door to the cafeteria, he turned and was relieved to see the doctor almost on his heels.

"What, what departmental stuff do you mean, Nathan?"
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"Well, I didn't want to go over this with you with others watching, so - this is good." They were halfway down a hallway, which Nathan judged to be long enough.

"I'm getting complaints - never mind from who - about the flow of information amongst the science team. People not knowing what's being researched, not passing information between each other, or to the analysts, or coordinating the schedules of the nova volunteers. I'm curious if you're aware of this. If it's a technical issue, problems with networked computers, or if something else is going on."

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Dr. Mazarin looked at Nathan, and suddenly his unctuousness vanished as though it had never been there. His face turned red, and Nathan had to remind himself that Henri's file claimed that he was a brilliant internist, a superb medical doctor. Right at that moment, he looked like an enraged animal.


Apoplectic, Mazarin smoothed down the front of his shirt. He straitened his tie, and the color slowly crept from his face. He looked at Nathan accusingly nonetheless.

"I agree that it is chaos among the scientific staff and the medical staff. No one seems to know anything about the work that the person right next to them is doing. Everyone seems hell bent on getting the 'credit' for this or that discovery in a paper. Getting published is one thing, but this..."

He looked at Nathan, and he seemed to almost be on the verge of tears.

"I cajole, I bully, I yell. Nothing seems to work. I am at the end of my rope, to tell you the truth. Only Dr. Crick seems willing to share her discoveries with anyone who cares to listen, and now they are subverting her too, I fear. If you discover the secret to making them understand what a singular moment in history we are standing in, please... make me aware of it."

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Ahh. Egos. Nathan nodded, feeling a little nervous. He hadn't run into this much at the CIA. Widespread fame for covert activities wasn't something that people who worked there would see. They did it for different reasons.

"All right. This is my advice, take it as you will. I haven't studied biology beyond high school but I have done work in a field where there are, shall we say, high stakes in getting information out of people, most of the time without them knowing. First, don't yell. When people get yelled at, they become defensive, and guarded, and when that happens, people just don't want to share. I'm sure you could tell me a reason why that stems from evolutionary psychology, but I've observed it dozens of times for myself. They just clam up when all they see is Bad Cop. They need Good Cop." I hope to hell he knows what Good Cop, Bad Cop is.

"What you should do instead is impress upon people, gently but firmly, how important it is that we are all at the top of our game here, and how the best way to do that is to share information. And the best way to get them to share is for you to lead by example. Print out stuff you've been sitting on and let them all take a peek. Talk with the analysts team and schedule regular exchanges of information - " Nathan smiled a bit, as memories of trading with his mirror at MI6 bubbled up. "If it's confidential, like information a test subject doesn't want to share, keep it confidential. But otherwise, we all work better when we're not doing redundant work.

"If Doctor Crick is doing what you want, then let everyone know that hers is an example you want followed. People pick up on that easier than more abstract guidelines.

"You're a brilliant guy, Doctor. But I think you know as well as I do that no one can know everything. Learning how to manage people will take time. It took time for me, that's for sure. You have any more questions, you let me or my assistants know.

"And if I see some improvement in all of this, well... like I said, we don't spend a lot of time together. I don't think you've had a chance to look at my mirr - my, ah, reconfigurable quantum signature, as they put it. You do well with them, and I'll make some time for us to study it together. Does that sound good by you?"

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Henri Mazarin looked at Nathan grimly. The doctor nodded stiffly, and started to walk past him, then stopped and turned slowly.

"You are right, of course. I shall try to take matters more in hand. I have left too much administration in Farah's hands, and focused too sharply on the research. I see that now. Thank you, Mr. Dayes."

He strode off down the hall, opened the Victorian double doors, and disappeared through them.

Someone passed Nathan quickly, "'Scuse me."

Nathan watched Jay King hurry off in the direction Mazarin had gone. The double doors opened, and Fang emerged. Jay stopped in front of her.

"Good morning Fang. Can you spare a few moments of your time to talk?"

The air was split suddenly by a voice over the emergency intercom system.

"Hello? Hello? Good. Attention all staff. This is Dr. Mazarin. Please report to your research station within the next fifteen minutes. Be prepared to discuss your findings. All Novus volunteers, if your last name, or family name begins with any letter from A to L, please report at nine a.m. sharp to the W.H.O. Medical facility. If your last name begins with any letter from M to Z, please report at nine a.m. sharp to the Aeon Development Center. If you are a translator, find the Novus that you translate for and tell them where they need to be. Thank you for your patience, we will have a schedule in your hands by the end of the day. That is all."

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