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Aberrant: Phoenix Rising - Book 2: Chapter 4: The Division Bell


jameson (ST)

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Their breath steamed out of their mouths as they made their way down the corridor hoping to find an entry into the lunar city that Fox had seen. Eventually they came to a large pressurized blast door that sealed the hall. "This explains the air and the cold. This must be an unused section that was abandoned." James moves toward the pad to see about opening the blast door and quickly groans, "Its been shut down, there's no power on this side. Who knows if there's even power on the other side." Even in his heavy coat James looks to be feeling the cold already and Ash and Adam are faring no better. "We need to either go back or get into an area with active life support. Brother?"

Raider nods and scouts forward through the pressure door. Fifteen minutes later the power in the section returns. The doors open and Raider is on the other side with a dozen armed men. One of the men steps forward, "Come with us intruders. No resistance will be tolerated."

What are you doing?

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(Before, after the warp) Doug commented, "Gravity didn't change... but that was a crazy long warp. We're off the Earth... or outside my range anyway."

Doug replied, "Sure. This is what we're here for."

(If Combat doesn't start Doug will try to rotate the link)

*Everyone stay calm.*

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Anna instinctively stepped backwards while she raised her arms to show she didn't want to resist. Of course given her size and appearance that gesture could be easily misunderstood.

She felt her heart beat faster and how her joints and muscled stiffened as she slowly panicked. Combat always had that effect on her.

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'It's ok guys, they haven't shot yet and we are strangers to them so we can hardly blame them for the guns." He turned to the head guard, "We come in peace, take us to your leaders." He chuckled, "saw that in an old movie I scavenged."

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Ashley put her hands up at the sight of the weapons and the terse, barked commands. When they were ushered forward she clasped her fingers behind her head and went where directed, not offering any resistance, nor trying to talk.

She figured there'd be plenty of time for chatting when the interrogators showed up.

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(OOC: Is Gregory in stealth mode? His MO is to go into it in any unfamiliar surroundings)

Gregory presses himself against the wall to make himself as low profile as possible. His skin changing to blend in with the lit surroundings. If he, alone, could remain unseen, there might be a chance to rescue his friends, or at least to observe until it is safe.

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Gregory almost let out a small squeak and threw up his shields in response to the voice. His danger sense was telling him that this person was serious. Without protest or attempts at evasion, Gregory lowered his head and moved into line behind the rest. Inside his mind, however, he was fabricating a story. Whether they believed it, would depend entirely on what he said, and how he said it.

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There were ten men to lead seven novas to whomever or wherever they were being taken. The halls they passed through were empty of other people and many had only the rare door to break up the simply monotony of their look. Either Adam's warp had taken them to some disused part of the city or they were being routed around the people and places of activity. Their captors were dressed in simple clothing, unadorned by symbols of rank or other identifiers, if it was a uniform it was spartan, if it was personal clothing it showed a remarkable lack of individuality. Their weapons appeared to be built of smooth plastic or ceramic and were as simplistic as the rest of their environment.

After what seemed ages of intersecting hallways with no end in sight the hall terminated at a simple doorway. The door split vertically in the center as they entered and slide into the jamb silently allowing them access to a largish room. Seven chair were arranged before a dais and they were instructed to sit. After a short time three more people entered the room. They were older, where the guards had appeared in their mid twenties to early thirties these three appeared well into their sixties.

Unlike the guards the three wore robes with voluminous sleeves that hid their hands. The first's robe was red with a stripe of white on each sleeve. The second, a woman, wore blue with similar white striping on the sleeves. The third, another man, wore yellow, and again the sleeves were striped although in black and not white. They sat on the dais and looked down on the seven novas before them. Their eyes failed to conceal the disgust as they inspected the clearly tainted Anna and James and the woman averted her eyes as she saw Gregory's nakedness.

The man in yellow and black put his hands before him on the simple slab of white material. He studied the group closely for a long moment. "Explain yourselves," he said simply, without emotion or rancor, his voice echoing in the chamber for a moment before silence fell once more.

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Raider was pretty impressed with these people. They had survived on the moon for the better part of a century with no supplies from Earth. More than that they appeared to have advanced beyond what they had been in Earth's last days before the Burn. Seeing the disgust in their eyes he looked aside at his motley crew and saw them with new eyes. They must look terrible to these people who were so precise and formal. He also surmised that they must have a very rigid culture being in such tight confines. Raider and company were the polar opposite of these people and everything they stood for. This would require tact and even with his intellect he wasn't sure how to proceed safely.

"I am called Raider, my colleagues and I just became aware of your presence when you destroyed the remnant of that comet what was moving close to the moon. As I am sure you are aware the Earth was devastated by the Burn and is only now starting to climb out of a hand to mouth existence. We are from a town called Newborough and would like to open discussions with you regarding trade and friendship."

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Anna wanted to shrink under the disapproving eyes of the elders. Being on the moon was uncomfortable enough and now she feared they'd never make it back to earth. She hoped that Raider's words would be received well not taken as an attempt to trick them into a trap.

If things could get resolved peacefully she'd be happy to leave right there... that is, if they let her. Right now she had the feeling of being judged and sentenced to death at the whims of their captors.

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What choice did he have? They knew he was there and told him that his hiding wouldn't work. Now he stood there in front of these strange people who wore robes of different colors. His mind still plotted some sort of excuse or lie to escape their current situation when Raider spoke.

I guess honesty would work too, Gregory said to himself.

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They listen in silence and as the echoes of Raider's words faded once more the one in red leans forward, "You knew of the comet then? Was it your actions that caused its fracture? That sent certain destruction tumbling toward us? Tell us what you know of the comet and how it was deflected from its course."

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Raider frowned briefly at the rudeness of their reply but maintained a very polite tone. "The city of York planned that, and I helped them implement it, but I was not aware that anyone lived here. Moreover, we did the only thing we could to stop it from destroying all life on Earth. Sending the piece in your direction was completely unintended as we had no way of calculating trajectory of possible fragments."

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It was on the tip of Doug's tongue to say that York wouldn't have cared about them being here even if they had known, but bad mouthing the Earth might be counter productive and he had no clue whether these people would respect Strength or Morality or what. Instead he tried to gauge what kind of deals were possible.

(OOC: Activate Lie Detector)

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"You and your people surprise us. We did not anticipate such levels of technological knowledge. We also did not expect any sane novas to remain, or are you newly erupted novas?" The blue clad man asks his face curious, the first tangible expression you have seen from these people. Doug finds that the man's words are truthful if generic enough to be evasive at the same time.

The man in yellow leans forward again, "You clearly have the power to escape from the earth. Why did you remain? Why did you seek to stop the comet?"

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Doug rotated through the link, *Careful here. They've been raised with the idea of "The Earth was Destroyed because it was Evil".*

Doug said, "Oh, we're not newly erupted. For novas, staying away from aberrations can be done but it's not obvious how to. It's one of those things you just have to be taught."

"As for stopping the comet, most people on Earth are baseline, like yourselves. For that matter all of us were baseline at one point or another as well. How could we let our friends and family die even if we personally could have survived?"

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The woman in red leans forward, "If you wish to speak to your companions you will speak. Out loud."

As she leans back the man in blue leans forward, "We understand how the nova physiology works. And for your kind these mutations you call aberrations are inevitable. It is a simple fact of biology." He leans back and the three lean in close together and whisper amongst themselves before the man in yellow, who you now feel must be their leader, or perhaps a first among equals, leans forward to speak again. "You are wrong about us. We are no more human than you are. And we are not nova either, though we share similar aptitude.

Tell us, what would you do with the earth? Have you achieved peace between all people? Have you conquered the petty sins of greed and jealousy? Or are you no better than the society from whose ashes you have risen?"

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"Whoa there," Ashley said abruptly. "Hold on a second. We're not claiming to have saved humanity from its own worst side. We're just doing the best we can to hold on to something like civilization."

She looks around at the other novas around her and quickly plows on.

"You guys clearly pulled together and did some amazing things up here, and that's great. The situation on Earth has been a bit different though. You've got all these little bands and hideouts, all paranoid and looking out for themselves. And you've got a few places that managed to hold onto, or rediscovered, the things that can make a society work. But no one's in charge down there, and no one's going to be in charge for a long time yet."

"We don't speak for Earth, in other words. We just speak for one little city, that's trying to be a light in the darkness."

Okay...that was corny. True...but corny.

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Anna flinched at the words. They could hear what they thought. But they were not Novas. She didn't understand what they were but they didn't kill them right away and she was grateful for that.

She looked to the sides realizing just how freakish she must've appeared compared to the others. She felt intimidated though sensing their disapproval of her aberrated body.

"I only wanted to help... regrow nature and heal the wounded. I never wanted any one to get hurt."

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Originally Posted By: jameson (ST)
The woman in red leans forward, "If you wish to speak to your companions you will speak. Out loud."
Doug said, "Telepath?"

Quote:
As she leans back the man in blue leans forward, "We understand how the nova physiology works. And for your kind these mutations you call aberrations are inevitable. It is a simple fact of biology."
Doug chuckled and held out his hand and examined it carefully. Yep, still aberration free. He replied, "If you say so."

Quote:
"Tell us, what would you do with the earth? Have you achieved peace between all people? Have you conquered the petty sins of greed and jealousy? Or are you no better than the society from whose ashes you have risen?"
Doug replied, "We try."

Then, assuming these *ethical* people were reading his mind without his permission, he thought forcefully, *It's not like we'd ever stand by and let billions of people die when we could easily step in and save them.*
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"You do speak for earth. Whether you wish to or not you do now. You have shown you allow yourself to be ruled by rashness, you jump to conclusions about what you do not understand." The woman looks at Doug, "And you presume to be a moral authority. Tell me that you have never acted without one hundred percent surety. Tell me truthfully."

The man in blue replies to Anna, "Young ... lady ..." there is distaste and confusion in his tone. "If you speak truly, and I believe you do, then your intentions are noble. It is a shame that one with a heart as yours would be afflicted with the curse of taint."

Quietly, the man in yellow says to the other two, "Enough. We are the ones asking the questions." He leans forward again, "What of you three, what do you have to say for yourselves? For your world?" He points at Gregory, Adam, and James.

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Ashley's mouth dropped open in outrage, and she had to consciously control her first urge to reply. Finally she shook her head.

"Okay, started off on the wrong foot. Look, maybe we should start over with some introductions. I'm Ashley Logan. It's good to meet you."

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Originally Posted By: jameson (ST)
"You do speak for earth. Whether you wish to or not you do now. You have shown you allow yourself to be ruled by rashness, you jump to conclusions about what you do not understand."
Doug nodded in agreement with this. It was part of the human condition... then he examined his hand again. Yep. Still no aberrations. No doubt these people's superior hearsay knowledge trumped first hand experience.

Originally Posted By: jameson (ST)
The woman looks at Doug, "And you presume to be a moral authority. Tell me that you have never acted without one hundred percent surety. Tell me truthfully."
Doug replied,

"Not taking an action is an action. Insisting on 100% certainty before acting is an excuse for avoiding responsibility. We feed children even though they may grow up to be criminals. We get married even though some turn out badly. I've done the best I could with the information I've had at the time."

Doug thought, *But as long as we're talking about ethics... Last I checked our current ethical situation was you were invading my mind without permission. Let me guess, it's unethical but you have your reasons? Novas aren't really people so what you do to them doesn't matter? Don't worry, I've gotten that line before, it's used a lot to justify all sorts of things.* wink

Quote:
The man in blue replies to Anna, "Young ... lady ..." there is distaste and confusion in his tone. "If you speak truly, and I believe you do, then your intentions are noble. It is a shame that one with a heart as yours would be afflicted with the curse of taint."
Without an eye blink Doug added,

"The greater shame is there was no one to teach her the proper use of her powers when she was younger. I found a teacher right after I erupted. She didn't even know she needed one."
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Gregory didn't really want to speak to these people. They seemed like they believed themselves superior to others, like the abbies in York saw normal humans. But sinse they addressed him, he would do his best to oblige.

"I am Gregory. I grew up without parets. I fought to survive." He remembered that they may be able to read minds and decided that he would be forthcoming. "My parents were killed by crazed abbies, but I escaped. You see....life is hard for most of us and everyday is a struggle. But we do not give up. We also try to help people because it is the right thing to do."

Scratching a scrape on his arm, he cocked his head. "If you knew life was so hard for us down there, why did you not help us?"

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Originally Posted By: Courier
"Not taking an action is an action. Insisting on 100% certainty before acting is an excuse for avoiding responsibility. We feed children even though they may grow up to be criminals. We get married even though some turn out badly. I've done the best I could with the information I've had at the time."

The woman smiles and replies, "One can dissolve a marriage, or punish a criminal. In those things that we cannot be sure of we can often take back our actions later, or make amends. Insisting on certainly prior to action is not avoiding responsibility if the action cannot be taken back." The man in yellow shoots the woman a withering look. Her satisfied smile fades and she reclines from the table

Originally Posted By: Courier
"The greater shame is there was no one to teach her the proper use of her powers when she was younger. I found a teacher right after I erupted. She didn't even know she needed one."

Yellow replies, "You are misinformed, or simply foolish. The genetics of your kind are unavoidable. Perhaps less than 0.1% of all novas will remain forever free of the genetic corruption of taint. Human evolution was not yet ready to safely control the forces of nature, taint is the inescapable result."

Originally Posted By: Gregory
"If you knew life was so hard for us down there, why did you not help us?"

The man in blue leaned forward hesitantly. At a nod from Yellow he replied to Gregory, "The Earth has been polluted. The stain of nuclear war has befouled the very land, air, and water. We are not yet ready to be able to safely expose ourselves to such a toxic environment. It was part of the plan that ..."

"Enough. They need not know of the plan." Yellow cut off Blue with a sweep of the hand.

Originally Posted By: SalmonMax
"Okay, started off on the wrong foot. Look, maybe we should start over with some introductions. I'm Ashley Logan. It's good to meet you."

"Names will change nothing. The truth is not dependent on such labels. However, if it will make you feel more at ease, you may call us by out stations; Blue, Red, and Yellow." At first it strikes everybody as odd the their titles would be as simple as the color of their robes but given the seemingly uniform white of the surroundings and the guards own outfits it would seem that perhaps their society is strictly ordered such that even the three primary colors become points of distinction.
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"Why are you so hostile? We haven't done anything. We're only survivors.", Anna was confused by the elders behaviour. The feeling of being judged by them got more intense with every passing minute they stood there. She preferred leaving than staying here. They were clearly not welcomed.

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Quote:
The woman smiles and replies, "One can dissolve a marriage, or punish a criminal. In those things that we cannot be sure of we can often take back our actions later, or make amends. Insisting on certainly prior to action is not avoiding responsibility if the action cannot be taken back." The man in yellow shoots the woman a withering look. Her satisfied smile fades and she reclines from the table
Doug asked, "Can't be taken back? You mean like letting a planet burn or a serial killer collect more victims?"

Quote:
Yellow replies, "You are misinformed, or simply foolish. The genetics of your kind are unavoidable. Perhaps less than 0.1% of all novas will remain forever free of the genetic corruption of taint. Human evolution was not yet ready to safely control the forces of nature, taint is the inescapable result."
Doug replied, "The key word is 'forever'. I'm subject to taint... but I won't live 'forever'. With the training I'll die of something else long before I succumb to taint."
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Originally Posted By: Courier
Doug asked, "Can't be taken back? You mean like letting a planet burn or a serial killer collect more victims?"

Ms. Red gave a small little smile that disappeared at a harsh glance from Mr. Yellow. "You are right, of course, at times action requires a leap of logic beyond the threshold of fact," Yellow replied to the room.

Originally Posted By: Courier
Doug replied, "The key word is 'forever'. I'm subject to taint... but I won't live 'forever'. With the training I'll die of something else long before I succumb to taint."

Mr. Blue shook his head, "Its unfortunate that you have been so misinformed. In all probability the only way you can ever avoid taint is by holding back your own potential, by never expanding your power to its furthest extents. You would also do well to avoid those areas most heavily scorched by the war. Our studies indicate that the residual radiation can actually accelerate the damage of taint."

Mr. Yellow's hand came down on the desk, "Enough. We are not here to debate genetic and evolutionary theory, nor are we here to discuss morals and ethics. We are here to determine the course of action the plan must now take." He looked at the other two and they simply nod silently. "You two have not spoken. We would hear your voices!"

Adam shifts in his seat uncomfortably, "I'm not sure I understand, but I do agree with what everybody here has said. We have been trying to survive, to rebuild, to correct the mistakes of the past. I'm not sure what it is you want from us, what is this plan you were talking about. Maybe we can help you?"

James laughed which earned him a hated look from Adam at the other end of the row of seats. "I think I understand, you are trying to engineer a missing link. Or perhaps you are that missing link. The step between humans and novas, the natural evolutionary growth of our powers and not the damaging burst that we call eruption. They are assessing us. Trying to determine if it is worth opening contact with us given the potential for introducing nova or aberrant genes back into their gene pool, and potentially undoing their plan."
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He wasn't sure what they were talking about. Did they or didn't they want to help? These people were as vague as the others. The only one who was really making any sense was James. If James was not so morally challenged, Gregory could see them becoming friends.

He found himself staring at Red, Blue and Yellow and wondering what their plan was. If he could speak to one of them alone....

Damn itch! Gregory found himself furiously scratching at his arm.

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In spite of her nature Anna suddenly crossed her arms in self defense and her posture showed a less submissive stance. She didn't understand what was going on but somehow the hostility she felt made her upset. Anna wasn't aware of any wrongdoing on her behalf. She never attacked anyone in her life, she hated conflict but this was slowly getting on her nerves.

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Raider simply sat contemplating the situation. They had far too little knowledge of the situation here, but he suspected James was right. From what he could tell this society was highly stratified and controlled. Not a place he would feel comfortable living, but the technology they possessed was worth a peace treaty.

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Originally Posted By: SalmonMax
"We're not asking to...mate with anyone," Ashley pointed out. "We just want to...talk. Trade. You know, do the things two peaceful civilizations do."


Mr. Yellow scoffed, "Trade would imply you have something we need or want. We are self sufficient. We have lasted thou ... decades without resupply what could you possibly offer us?"

Mr Blue nodded, "We have no wants, and even if we did everything from the planet is stained with the radiation of the war. Only by cleansing the planet of the radiation could we ever regain interest in it or its ware once more."

As they spoke Gregory scratched. His fingers found purchase on a peeling flake of skin and he pulled it back, tearing it from his body. The relief was almost instant but when he looked down he found instead of new pink skin there were soft glistening scales.
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Quote:
Mr Blue nodded, "We have no wants, and even if we did everything from the planet is stained with the radiation of the war. Only by cleansing the planet of the radiation could we ever regain interest in it or its ware once more."
Doug said, "Define 'cleansing the planet of the radiation'. Would that match, 'dropping a big ass rock on the planet so you can start over'?"
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Ash gave Doug an aggrived look at that.

"I don't think that's helpful."

She then looked back at the three. "Most of the Earth is not contaminated. If it was, we wouldn't be here. There are pockets where fallout concentrated, yes, and of course most of the cities are off limits, but the air's fine and the rain's pure."

"You obviously have ways of getting what you need. What I think we could offer is a way of getting it more easily. Two big things the moon can't give you, air and water. Another would be food...real farmed food out of the ground. Meat even. Another thing we can offer is information. About the Earth and its progress, if nothing else."

She shrugs. "If those things are really of no interest to you, or anyone else here, then I guess you're right, and we'll be on our way."

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Originally Posted By: Courier
Doug said, "Define 'cleansing the planet of the radiation'. Would that match, 'dropping a big ass rock on the planet so you can start over'?"


For a moment there was a stunned silence from the trio even as Ashely spoke it seemed to fall on deaf ears. "Preposterous!" Mr. Yellow scoffed, almost laughing. "We are not monsters. Our people, we have stood as the guardians of humanity for one hundred generations ..." Mr. Blue and Ms. Red both blanched white. Ms. Red grabbed Yellow's arm and whispered something to him.

As they spoke Adam leaned over to Doug, "Dude, what the hell, do you want them to get even less polite? Shit." He looked worried, "I'm ready to tear open a way home if this goes poorly, you just say the word." He looked down at the others and back to Doug, his expression unsure.

"Ahem, as I was saying. We have been the guardians of humanity, past, and future, for one hundred years. The comet was displaced by one of the few surviving aberrants after the great war as an act of final revenge upon humanity."

Originally Posted By: SalmonMax
She shrugs. "If those things are really of no interest to you, or anyone else here, then I guess you're right, and we'll be on our way."


"Young lady there is little that we cannot provide for ourselves. We are quiet self sufficient, our forefathers saw to that."
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Doug raised his hands in apology and said, "Sorry! Sorry... that was rude and undiplomatic of me."

Doug shrugged and said, "I mean... let's put it this way. Water can't be made radioactive and last I heard the moon doesn't have any."

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