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Aberrant: In the Beginning - Voltage


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2:30 pm, 20th April, 1998

A NHS G.P's waiting room was always a close approximation to hell on fucking Earth, Michelle gloomily pondered as she lounged in the hard plastic seat, trying to ignore the screaming baby two seats down. The kid's mum was chatting to her friend while tuning her offspring out, and the baby had Michelle's sympathy despite the throbbing headache that hadn't left her all day so far. "You an' me both, kid." She muttered to herself as she hunkered down further in her seat. "We both think your mum's a cunt." Finally, she couldn't take it anymore.

"Oi, Chatty Annie." Her strong voice cut across the waiting room bustle as she caught the two women's attention. "How about you look after your fucking kid and give the rest of us a bleedin' break, hmm? Christ knows if I had to listen to you flappin' your gob all day I'd be screaming too."

The woman turned in shock, mouth opening to make a retort, but was cut short as the imposing blonde woman stood up, looming over her and flipping her a V-sign. "Shut it, you daft cow, before you attract more than flies. Go change the nipper." She paused for a second. "Now."

The rest of the waiting room watched, astonished, as the mother stood up and carried her child off to the changing rooms provided. Michelle gave them all a Look and sat down. Always the same: they take the shit in silence and then look at a girl like she's from Mars if she says what needs to be said. Well fuck them.

"Ahem, Ms Rassner? I can see you now." Dr Parma was a nice enough chap, a sunny smile never far from his brown face, even when confronted with this abrasive patient. She admitted to herself that he had a bloody good bedside manner. Today, though, he looked a little haunted, and Michelle tensed as she stalked past him into his consulting room, towering a full head over the rotund little man. Ahh bollocks. It's bad news.

The doctor shut the door and came round to sit in his chair as Michelle sat down on the one provided. He fiddled with his pen for a moment as he looked at the computer screen in front of him, then at his notepad, then at the wall. Michelle watched him for a long moment, not wanting to ask. Finally he turned to her.

"We have had the tests back." he began, his Pakistani accent only slightly mellowed in the ten years he'd lived in London. "It appears that you do indeed have AIDS. I am sorry. But do not panic!" He hastened, watching the color drain from his patient's face. "It's not immediately dangerous. But you must take certain changes to your lifestyle. If you do, you could live for many years, maybe even until they find a cure."

There was more of this, a litany of dietary needs, precautions to take, and of course, the need to inform previous partners. Well, that would be easy: the last one she'd had had been the fucking wanker that had given her this. She'd inform him alright, with a knuckle sandwich. Three months of abstinence while she worried about it, and it turned out to be right. What a wonderful fucking New Year's / 21st Birthday party that had been, in retrospect. Blinding good shag at the time, though.

She left the surgery and trudged half-heartedly home, her thoughts bleak. Everyone was talking about the new super-people, the Novus, on the bus. She didn't really pay attention, her mind mulling over the unfairness of her situation. Might live many years: yeah, if I live like a monk. What the fuck, I'm not even bloody 22! Other buggers get super powers, I get AIDS.

Hopes, dreams, and aspirations got consigned to the trash in Michelle's mind. All her damn life she had struggled, fought, kicked and screamed. And now... now there was something she couldn't fight. It was a cast-iron bugger. Rather than falling into self-pity, the tall blonde started to get angry. I'll be fucked if I'm going to live like this, waiting to die! She got off at the next stop and headed right into the off-license across the road.


It was much later. And a truly epic quantity of booze had been consumed.

Michelle's oddysey had taken her through all the East End pubs she was used to frequenting. In her usual blunt fashion, she had spread the news that she was off-limits sexually and that she intended to otherwise carry on as normal, though would have to buy a massive selection of dildos to compensate. The news was taken hard by her friends and fans, and a lot of drinks were bought for her, as well as hats passed round for the 'Dildo Fund'.

But now she was alone in a dark street, rain pouring down her face mixing with her angry tears as she stared at All Saints parish church, wondering if the supreme High Bastard was in tonight. After trying the doors and finding them locked, Michelle looked at the roof. You ain't gettin' away that easily, yer cunt! she thought drunkenly, then headed to the north side of the building, where a new community hall had been built adjoining the old Norman-era structure.

It took maybe fifteen minutes of swearing, scraped knuckles, and several near-falls from increasing heights, but Michelle was fearless due to alchohol, rage, and having nothing to lose, and eventually stood atop the slippery slate roof of the church.

"Right!" she screamed into the ominous rumbles of thunder from the clouds overhead. "Lemme tell you a few things, you piss-awful excuse for a fackin' deity! You-" and she ranted for nearly half an hour, her anger building and building as lightning flickered in the swirling darkness above. Every grumble of thunder increased her ire, made her drunken invective sharper. She railed against God, Buddha, Allah et al, then moved onto politicians, celebrities, reality t.v. and Novas, waving a mostly empty bottle of Jack Daniels over her head as she spewed her disappointment up at the sky. All the while, her headache grew apace, matching then driving on her anger. A small crowd of people started to gather, including a roving police officer who immediately started speaking into his radio.

Abruptly, as she finished delivering a particularly blistering opinion on the state of the Prime Minister's crotch mites, the world vanished in white hot pain that seemed to splinter the very cells of her body. She was aware of the stink of ozone, and was in one corner of her mind amazed. What do ya know? The Bastard on High heard me and gave me my own thunderbolt! That's goin' out in style! Then she thought no more.

At approximately 10:23pm on the 20th of April, roughly 12 eye-witnesses saw a pillar of lightning surround Michelle Rassner as she stood on top of All Saints Church. There was an explosion, pieces of smoking hot slate whirring off the roof as a chunk of it was blasted free, and the witnesses screamed and ducked. When they looked back up, there was no sign of the tall blonde with the penetrating voice and foul mouth.

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Too Fackin' Early, 21st April

What the fuck...? A dull throbbing pain was colouring the inside of her eyelids dark red as Michelle woke up. What the heck was I drinkin' last night? A noise of pain and suffering startled her for a moment before she realised she had made it herself.

"Fuuuuuck." she moaned as she tried to sit up, failed, then tried again. She heard a hammering sound and resolved to kill the bastard next door before she caught on that it was her own pulse in her ears.

There are certain ritualistic mental motions one goes through when waking up after an alchohol-fuelled night out, comprising of Where am I?, What was I drinking?, Am I clothed/whose underwear am I wearing? and finally Who the fuck is this next to me?. Somewhere interspersed with the mental noise are traditionally found oaths never, ever to drink so much again and queries as to what one's face is sticking to. Michelle took stock.

Okay, I'm in my bed. The aroma of cigarettes and Lynx spray (yes, she wears male deodorant) was unmistakeable, along with the background smells that the human brain subconsciously categorises as 'home'. The familiar taste of sleep-tainted bourbon in her mouth fulfilled the second requirement, along with the secondary check box of "Oooh christ I'm never gonna drink that shit again" muttered in a soft monotone.

Then she realised she was stark bollock naked. Ordinarily this meant that the night had ended well, but further groping inspection without opening her eyes revealed that there was no-one in the bed with her and that she was, in fact, laying above the covers.

"What the bloody hell?" she opened her eyes, then regretted it as the pre-dawn light seemed painfully cruel to her eyes. Slowly, she cracked one lid open and stared around herself. Her clothes from yesterday weren't on the floor, or folded up on the chair, or even being partially worn by a female Royal Navy rating as they cooked breakfast. In fact, they were nowhere to be seen.

Stumbling to her feet on the third try, 'Chelle groped for the door to her small (she preferred 'intimate') boudoir and staggered out into the cramped ('cozy') hallway and to the bathroom right across from her. After choking down five aspirins, she looked at herself in the full length mirror on the door, meaning to check for clumsy surgical scars denoting a possible missing kidney.

"Wow." was all she could blearily manage as she peered at herself. From behind, her bum looked like a teenager's. It wasn't in bad shape before, but now... it looked like you could bounce a sixpence off it. She peered closer at herself: yep, it was still her. She hadn't switched bodies with someone. There were the tattoos and everything. But her boobs! They were... well... boobalicious. Standing up proud and clear, no gravity distortion at all. Always well-endowed since puberty had kicked in, and philosophically against bras, she had looked forward with some bitter resignation to having tits down to her navel by the time she was forty and had been determined to make the most of them while men (and women) still wanted them.

"Did I shag a plastic surgeon or summat?" she pondered as she stared at herself, trying to remember the events of the previous evening. They came back slowly as she stared at her newly-restored strawberries-and-cream complexion that showed none of the trials of two decades of hard living. A treacherous thought train tied those memories into the stories that had been non-stop running in the media for the last two weeks.

"Oh kerrist!" She swore as she looked in the mirror. "I'm fuckin' Supergirl now?"

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  • 1 month later...

Much to the shock of a great many people who knew her casually, which was pretty much everyone who knew her at all, Michelle wasn't always thoughtless and impulsive. After staring at the new improved her in the mirror for a moment with the word 'Supergirl' orbiting in her head, she did not run outside stark naked, climb up onto the roof and throw herself off to see if she could fly.

No. She got dressed first.

As Michelle lay on her back on the patch of grass out in front of her flat's building, briefly stunned after finding out that flight was apparently not one of her gifts, she started to laugh. The fall hadn't really hurt...and now she felt fine. It wasn't just her imagination!

In a heartbeat she was back up on her feet and dashing to her flat again. In rapid succession she discovered a few things.

One...she was not super-strong like Supergirl. Her effort to pick up the heavy, wood-frame sofa in her TV room resulted only in sore arms.

Two, she healed fast. Very fast. This was discovered on multiple occasions over the course of the morning, as she experimented with everything from ice, boiling water, fire, and of course just plain old jabbing herself with a knife.

Finally...she appeared to be able to juggle now. It was crazy easy. She couldn't believe she'd ever had trouble with it before. With some practice, involving some of her fast healing, she learned she was fast enough now to actually reach into a fan and grab one of the blades without hurting herself. If she was careful.

It was almost noon when Michelle opened her window to let the smell of hot cooking oil and ammonia leak out into the cool air of a London springtime. She'd downed some of the good whiskey, and as usual it gave her a crowner of an idea.

Reproduce the circumstances of the original accident.


And that was how Michelle found herself holding car jumper cables, which she'd stripped one set of ends off of and jammed into a wall socket. To make sure it was scientific, she tried to remember the rant as well...and found it wasn't that hard. The whiskey really wasn't biting the way it usually was good for.

"...until you have to bend over and jam your thumb all the way up in there...no wait, let JESUS jam HIS thumb all the way up in there!"

The invocation complete, all that was left was the miracle. Michelle took a breath, held it, and clamped the little copper jaws onto her own abdomen across her belly. There was a buzz form the wall socket...and for a moment it -almost- hurt.

And then the world went white for a moment, like the biggest camera flash in Britain had just gone off in her face. Michelle didn't black out though, not this time. The flash cleared, and she realized the wall socket was sparking and buzzing loudly as the wall over it began to darken.

That was probably a BAD thing.

Michelle whirled and zipped into the kitchen, only to discover that changes had taken place in more than just the wall socket. Her arms and hands were wreathed in blue-white light, in which tiny bolts of lightning leapt and crawled around. She didn't feel any of the shocks though. She could feel the warm, but cooling air move over her, but not thousands of volts stampeding up and down her arm.

Quick inspection confirmed that it wasn't just her arms either. The rest of her was electrified too. And her clothes seemed to have been flash-fried. Turned to dust. Another experiment revealed to Michelle that she was going to have trouble turning the faucet or filling a pot with water. In fact..."

Hang on. Water? For an electrical fire? She slapped her forehead, and discovered that she couldn't quite touch it. An invisible force like magnetism kept her hands, or any other part of herself it seemed, from crossing within her own body.

She was panicking...she had to calm down a second. And when she did, the solution was obvious. She pluged the car jumper cables out. Her body seemed soft now...and they'd plunged right into her shoulders. Weirdly, there was no pain. But then again, what was weird compared to be covered in electricity?

Deprived of power, the wall socket quieted, though smoke was still coming up and out from the burned streak above it on the wall. She needed to shut off the house power and then drench it. She really had to cut off...

...the power in the flat went off. Just like that. Lights. Clocks. Everything went dark. There was a knot of tension in her head, like keeping a muscle flexed. When Michelle 'relaxed' that 'muscle,' the power came back on...with a little surge that somehow managed to trip her ratty old television set on.

"...no sign of her body was found however. Eyewitnesses at the church claimed to hear her 'screaming curses to God' just before the lightning hit."

The scene changed from an anchorman to a man in firefighter garb with the church in the background.

"Since we haven't found a body to identify, we don't have a name or next of kin. Right now we're asking anyone who might recognize this girl to call the police. And, I think this goes without saying, but I'd just like to take the opportunity to remind everyone out there that thunderstorms can be dangerous, lightning kills more people per year than any other natural phenomena, and...whatever your religious leanings may be, it's probably never a good idea to badmouth God on or in a church."

The anchorman reappeared, with a freeze framed image of Michelle on the church roof just before the lightning hit. The image is grainy and low quality, but she can recognize it easily enough. A phone number appears on the bottom of the screen.

"Repairs to the church are under way, and are said to be relatively minor. That number to call again is at the bottom of the screen."

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She stared at the screen for a long minute or three, her mind racing as she sorted through her priorities.

One: Call that number.

Between Zero and One: Figure out how to stop from being some sort of bloody living electrical charge so I cand A- use the phone and B- put some soddin' clothes on.

What kinda bleedin' superheroine fights evil starkers, anyway? She fumed while searching for that 'muscle' in her head again. There... Abruptly she stopped glowing and throwing off sparks.

"Phew." She collapsed back into her seat and reached for the phone, dialling the number as she stared blankly at the weatherman as he talked about the freak storm last night. The police operator on the other end picked up.

"Hello? Yeah. That girl on the church roof? That's me. The name's Michelle Rassner, and I'm a flippin' Novus now." She sounded world-weary as she reached for her ciggies. An expert flip sent it into her mouth and a second later she lit it and took a deep drag, feeling the smoke soothe her jangled nerves. "So tell me, luv. How much bleedin' trouble am I in for THIS time?"

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The operator at Scotland Yard was about as bright as Michelle figured they'd be.

"Sorry, what? You've seen the girl...you ARE the girl? Hang on a second..." There was a rustling noise. "Right then. Uh, don't panic, first thing. We'll be sending a car round to help you right away. Are you injured? Do you need medical assistance? Uh, sorry, one moment." Another pause, with the faint sound of people talking.

Then another voice came on the line. Deeper and considerably less frazzled.

"Miss Rassner, good to hear from you. And glad you're all right after your mishap on the church. You said you were..." she could practically -hear- him looking at a hastily printed quotation, "...a novus now, right? Well, what I'd like to do for you, unless you need medical aid right now, is have the Novus experts come and have a word with you. The Aeon Society's been doing a lot of work in England and abroad, and they seem to have a pretty good handle on the whole thing. As for trouble, I don't think there's any law against being hit by lightning. The church so far isn't pressing charges for tresspassing, so at this point you're not in trouble."

"So we'll call the Aeon gents. Is there anything else you need? Like I said, medical help, or are you in any kind of danger?"

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"Nah. No danger." She looked around her apartment carefully. "Don't need any medical help either. I'll get myself ready for these Aeon blokes then, shall I?"

"Alright then, Miss Rassner. You should be hearing from them within the hour: they're based here in London and tend to move pretty sharpish when they hear there's a new Novus around." The senior cop's voice was reassuring despite Michelle's usual distrust of the buggers, and she found herself relaxing a little. "Naturally, we can keep this out of the press until they've had a chance to help you, but you understand that there'll be people wanting answers. I wouldn't worry though. The Society tends to look after you super-folks."

"Yeah. Okay then, I'll be waiting. Thanks." Michelle hung up, still feeling a little unreal as she took a deep drag on her cigarette. She blinked, looked at the lit end of the Marlboro, then over at her lighter.

Which was across the room on her breakfast table.

"Well shit." Was all she had to say. She looked at her fingers, then experimentally brought them up and concentrated a little. She felt a small surge of energy pass through her from a nearby socket, an electrical tingle that ended in a large spark. "Hey! Now that's fuckin' cool." Distracted, she played with the glowing finger tip as though it were a sparkler, making patterns in the dimly lit lounge before. On an impulse, she wrote 'Michelle' in the air as fast as she could, her hand a blur that left the word as an afterimage. That was good for a laugh, then her blue eyes narrowed. "Not much of a 'super' name, Michelle." She mused quietly to herself. "I mean, people aren't goin' to point up and say 'Is it a bird, is it a plane, no it's MICHELLE!' are they? I wouldn't if I were them. I'd feel a right twat. Hmm."

She pondered that for a long while, tossing out various names to consider in a low absentminded murmur. "...Amp? Nah... Makes me sound like I should have a guitar plugged into my arse. Watt...? Makes me sound confused... Ohm...? Too Buddhist... Electra...? Real girl's name, and waaay to poncy. Sounds like a girl that has three ponies and pays someone else to clean them out. Voltage...?"

She paused, then said it again. "Voltage... Yeah. That could work. Volt is too butch, but Voltage, now...." She was jerked out of her reverie by the doorbell and looked at the clock, alarmed. "Fuck-fuck-FUCK!" she screamed. "I've been sittin' here in the buff for THIRTY-flippin'-FIVE MINUTES!"

She jumped to her feet and charged into the bedroom, grabbing for clean clothes, scrubbing her face and body in the fastest cat-bath known to mankind and combing her hair, and trying to do them all at once. She was in such a hurry that she was already dressed, cleaned up and moving down the hallway before she realised that the doorbell had only rung once. She blinked. Getting ready had taken her all of four seconds.

"Well..." was all she could say as she considered her ensemble. She was wearing her favorite Union Flag midriff top, which was a little tighter over the brand spanking new Novus-boobs, which seemed to resist being flattened a little by the fabric as they had before. It made the bottom edge of the top rise a little higher, showing more taut belly, but that was okay, she decided. Faded olive-green BDU pants with the top edge of a red thong rising up over her hips above the waistline, and her mismatched Doc Martins (one purple, one red, both covered in graffiti) completed the outfit. Her tattoo's were clearly visible, which she liked, particularly the anarchy symbol on her abdomen and the Union Flag on her upper boob.

"I'll do." She considered as she looked in the mirror. "I'm still me, after all, right?" Though I look fuckin' spectacular. I'd do me, right enough. She took a deep breath, let it out, then grinned, went to the door and opened it.

"Wotcha." The punk-rock amazon leaned against the doorjam, blue eyes regarding the people outside as she offered them a hand. "You from these Aeon fellas? I'm Michelle Rassner, but you can call me Voltage."

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  • 2 weeks later...

Fang requisitioned a car, knowing that Jedi didn't have the ability for rapid transit. She would have preferred to meet Ms. Rassner alone, given Jedi's predilection for pushing his idea at every chance. Of course, he was a salesman, and this was natural. It seemed impolite to Fang, but she wasn't comfortable with capitalism; perhaps he was normal.

Click to reveal..
Jedi, let me know if I got this wrong; I didn't remember him having teleport. If you'd like to get us to the door, cool.
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The car turned out to be a Mercedes Benz limo. Colin smiled, Aeon did things in style at least. It would help their image and recruiting, it was more than acceptable. "I believe our ride is here." He smiled and opened the door for Wei Fang.

Once inside and settled the car sped off toward their next acquisition. "So tell me how should I address you? I am afraid I do not know the proper way to speak to you."

She answered with what to Colin seemed like an aire of aloofness, "Ms. Wei would be acceptable."

Colin smiled again, "Ms. Wei it is then. We've worked together through some tense problems but we know very little about each other. Do you mind if I ask your view on the current situation? With the novus I mean. You've heard my proposal about the company. Do you see this as being in opposition to Aeon and it's goals?"

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She was quiet for a moment; then she said, "When I erupted, I saw the fate of the New People in China. I saw what my homeland would do to them in the name of patriotism. I would not see the same happen to them in the name of capitalism." She glanced at Jedi, her face calm and impassive.

"I sense that Aeon and it's goals may not be compatible with the long-term interests of the New People. What do you think-?"

The car stopped and the driver announce they had arrived. If Fang was upset that she couldn't finish, she didn't show it. Instead, she got out of the car when the driver got the door and led the way to the house. She waited for Jedi before ringing the doorbell.

The woman that opened the door made Fang's eyebrows rise reflexively. Another decadently tall Western loomed over them, barely and bizarrely dressed. Fang swallowed her concern over the appearance of the New Person and nodded. "I am Wei Fang," she said, bowing and letting Jedi take the woman's offered hand. She let Colin introduce himself.

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Colin smiled at the new nova. "I am Colin Chatham, pleasure to meet you Miss." He offered his own hand to give the new nova a solid handshake.

Looking to Wei Fang, "We will have to finishes our conversation sometime, I think our views are not too different to one another. Perhaps once we've gotten to know our new friend here she might be interested in taking part in the discussion. But first let's do the meet and greet." He grinned at the women.

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Michelle gave Colin's hand a firm shake, then glanced over her shoulder at her pokey little home before coming to a decision and grabbing her leather jacket from just inside the door and pulling it on. It was well-worn in and much loved, covered in patches and badges for and against various causes.

Click to reveal..

(Examples of the badges: "Free Tibet Now!" "People's Republic My Arse!" "Poll Tax? Fuck off!" "Moustache Rodeo Champion" "New Labour? Old Bollocks" "Save The Whales: Shoot a Japanese Whaler" "My Eyes Are Up Here ^" and so on... smile

"Seein' as we've just met and I've got no reason to inflict it on yer, we'll skip my showin' you the lifestyles of the poor and shameless." Voltage told the two Aeon representatives lightly as she stepped out into the street. "Either of you had brekkie yet? I know a good place, and it'll be on me." She still had about fifty quid of the 'dildo fund' in her pocket, a quick check reaffirmed. She turned to lock her door while Wei Fang and Colin made their minds up.

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Colin smiled. "We've come to assist you in becoming accustomed to your new live as a novus. Of course we can do that over breakfast as well as we could anywhere else." He gestured toward the limo and then offered gentlemanly assistance on entering the car which of course neither woman needed, but it was the appropriate thing to do so he did it. Once everyone was settled inside the car he continued.

"Ms. Wei and I were just about to discuss our views on what we feel the future of our people should be like. Before we do, let me assure you that no matter what your life was like before, the very fact that you are now one of the Novus, or Novas as some people call us will make you an instant celebrity. Not everyone has benevolent intentions toward us however." Looking to their new passenger, "Have you had the opportunity to form an opinion about the Novus yet?"

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"Straight down the street, about five blocks on the left, luv." Voltage told the driver. "Easy Mick's Cafe." She grinned at the other two Novus as she settled into her seat. "Best fried breakfast in East London." Her deep blue eyes studied Wei Fang and Colin appraisingly as she thought about his question.

Well, ain't he well-brought up. Smooth manners, long words... bet he's gone to some nice schools. Lotus Blossom there is keeping quiet, but she's takin' everything in, ain't she? Didn't shake hands, so she's either a snooty cow, foreign, or both.

"Can't say that I've formed much of an opinion." She shrugged at them both. "Not sure what all this is about 'our people', either. We're still just people on the inside, ain't we? Or is the big secret that we're secretly from Alpha-bleedin'-Centauri and that's why we're gettin' weird powers?" She snorted wryly. "It'd explain a lot, mind."

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"Our immediate encounters formed our opinions," Fang said softly. "I fled my country before I could be placed into a force labor situation. We are people inside, but we are not the same people we were. Or if you are," Fang added with a wry smile, "then you are luckier than I."

She glanced at Colin. "This might be a heavier conversation than we are ready to have at this point," she said softly but firmly. "Perhaps we should let Ms. Rassner ask us questions?"

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Colin smiled a friendly smile. "Questions are fine by me, and fried or any other kind of breakfast sounds good." A little of the youth and nova hunger shown though his polished facade. "One of the side effects of being a nova is the appetite. I eat easily twice as much as I used to because of the higher metabolism."

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"Here we are, Jeeves." Michelle tapped the driver on the shoulder and pointed at the diner. The man, who's name wasn't Jeeves, took it with good grace, smiling a little as he pulled the limo over and parked it at the side of the road.

"Alright. So we can expect changes then, and not just bein' able to fly or whatnot." She gave Fang and Colin an appraising look as they all got out of the car. Passers-by on the street stared, some looking as if they knew Michelle as she glanced around, then led the two strangers towards Easy Mick's Cafe, where a neon sign in the clean window displayed in garish red letters that breakfast was served all day long. Past the door, which jangled as it opened, they found themselves in a surprisingly clean, neat, and tidy diner, expecially considering the neighbourhood. Several patrons looked up, recognising Michelle, who's stomach gave off a loud growling sound.

"Kerrist, I'm bleedin' starved." She looked at Colin. "This'd be that metabolism you were talkin' about, then. C'mon, let grab some grub." She led the way through the tables and chairs to the back of the place to her favorite table. Once they were seated, she called out to the large overweight man behind the counter, he voice cutting across the low din of a busy eatery.

"Mick, my lovely man! Get me and these two a large plate with double everything, capisch? And three cuppas while we're waitin', too."

"Large plates, double the lot. Got it, 'Chelle!" he shouted back, then turned to the griddles behind him. His daughter, Rachel, came over with the teas.

"'Ere you are, Chelle. Who're yer friends?" The young woman gave both Fang and Colin an appraising stare, both bold and curious. Michelle flapped a hand at her.

"Shoo, Rache. Private business. Go serve some more customers, girl." As the waitress moved away, the blonde Englishwoman turned to Colin and Fang, stirring milk and sugar into her tea.

"Right then. So what would you two say is the single most important thing 'bout bein' a Novus?"

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Collin chuckled, "That's like asking the meaning of life. Answer's going to be different for every person you ask. For me the most important thing is opportunity. Just being a nova will make you famous no matter what your powers. I've been in business all my life and I've learned to recognize and look for what people want. As you've already seen in the news the people are all over us. It's been practically the only thing on tv since it all started. Give it time and you will see that even novas with the lamest powers will be highly sought after for corporate sponsorships the way sports stars are now, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. We haven't really had the chance to discuss it but I think Ms. Wei and I have different takes on what is important, or rather in terms of how to address our specific nova issues." Collin stopped his sales pitch and smiled. "Bah, that's not what you really want to know though. If you mean what's it like to be a nova, you'll find it's a hell of a lot of fun."

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