Jump to content

Aberrant: In the Beginning - Chapter 2a - As Above, So Below


Recommended Posts

Gwyn may have expected passing through the warp portal to be accompanied by a physical sensation. The edges of it were certainly energetic enough. In the end though it was anticlimactic. In mid-stride he ceased to be in Judge Byrne's office, and came to exist in a cool, moist cave with rounded walls that looked almost soft until you touched them. The smell of water was heavy in the air. Light came from electric worklights on stands paced through the room and corridor beyond.

And there was Jennifer. Slider, as she'd also been called. She was gorgeous, and looking at him with the sort of smile one usually reserved for long-lost brothers. It was hard to look at that angelic face and not feel a skipping of the heart.

She led him through a round passage...probably caused by water drainage, his mind babbled at him. Hollowing these tubes out of limestone, a drip at a time over millions of years. And all so that now, these people could hide in them.

Finally they arrived at a large central-looking chamber.

"Afternoon, Joe," Jennifer said happily. "This is Gwyn Jones. He's from your time too." She beamed at them both, clearly very pleased to finally have them here together.

(OOC - Joe and Gwyn...yer up! :))

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Joe, still being in student mode, bowed to Gwyn. Then, remembering himself, he stood, looked up at the slightly larger man and shook his hand.

Joe replied, his tone even and measured, the kind you'd use with a sensi or other martial artist. "The pleasure is mine."

At Gwyn's question, Joe looked to Slider, asking permission, before he turned back to Gwyn and answered, "If I may? From what I've learned, we're here to learn about so that we can be sent back and prevent this future from happening. And, I, for one, am using this time to learn about and practice my powers. That way, hopefully, once I, uh, we, get back, I'll be capable enough to stop this." In his eyes, there was a fire that burned, leaving no doubt that he'd give his life to prevent this future from re-occuring.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Well I'm all for learning about my powers, I haven't even had time to work out what they are yet and the Chief of Justice wasn't particular forthcoming on the matter. Presumably you're working out your powers down here so that they aren't detected by the guys in the Uber-Satelite?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Anybody feel like telliing me what my powers are at this stage, so I can get started on working with them? Although I'd be interested in trying to learn how to do that Warp thing. That would help a great deal with some ideas I've got."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gwyn and Joe realize that over the past few minutes a few others have filtered into the room. Juno's there, grinning as she looks from one to the other. Sascha, her face as stony as ever, but the fire alive in her eyes. Some others that Joe recognizes, but hasn't really been introduced to yet, and a few more that he hasn't seen before too.

Jennifer "Slider" Landers is grinning at them too. At Gwyn's question she nods. "I think we can help with that. Juno, you knew him, right? I mean, right after his eruption."

The pretty, young Hispanic woman came up, nodding. "Yeah. I helped train him after the ship thing blew over." She folded her arms over her chest and cocked an eyebrow at him as if she suspected he was teasing her.

"You're strong and quick...more so than any normal human. You have this power that lets you change how heavy you are...or I guess it's more than just that. You can actually change how dense you are. Get more dense to get heavy and tough...get less dense to get light and hard to hit. Same process lets you fly around."

Juno laughed. "I guess it's not the same you, but it's good to see you again."

Slider chuckled and shook her head ruefully...the slight impression of long-forgiven jealousy, perhaps. "Joe, as for the plan...it's not quite as simple as just training you and sending you back. Or rather...it doesn't have to be."

Juno glanced at Slider, a bit taken aback.

"There's two contingency plans, based on what you two are willing to do. The first is a foolproof way to end this tyranny and change the past, to change the future. The second is far from foolproof, but it may still work."

"The second way is to teach you two a few things you'll need to know...then send you back to the past. You'd wake up right when and where you left from, but with full memories of what happened here. Then you'd need to try to find a way to change the events that led up to this. Our resident sphinx gives this plan a 68% chance of working."

There was an uneasy murmur in the room over that. Juno 'shhed' everyone.

"The first plan," Jennifer went on, "is completely depending on your agreeing to go with it. It's more complicated, and I will be honest...a bit more dangerous. However, it's success rate at changing present events is over 99 percent." She cleared her throat. "Basically, it involves using both of you as rallying points to stir up a riot at Bahrain. This will distract the majority of Utopia's security forces. We'll then use that distraction to invade Pax's orbital headquarters. There will be a fight...and Pax himself is certain to show up."

Juno stared at Slider, clearly startled. "Jen..."

"Once Pax joins the fight, we'll call in some reinforcements that Madame Kung has arranged for us. Reinforcements that will be capable of beating even 'The Iron Fist of Peace.'"

Juno swallowed. "Madame Kung, huh?" She seemed uncertain...but then a slow half-smile spread across her lips. "Well...I admit, I've been waiting a long time to smash that arrogant bald face in."

Gwyn and Joe found themselves the center of attention at that point, when both Juno and Jennifer Landers looked at them, and every other nova in the chamber followed suit.

"You two are the keys," Slider told them. "During Pax's rise to power, you were heroes. You opposed him...first with words, and then with deeds. When he came after you, you managed to elude him time and time again. It was...a very dark day when we lost you...both of you. But with you back, we can put hope back into people's hearts. We have insiders ready to help us into the megaprison at Bahrain. A LOT of those prisoners were your followers. They wouldn't think much of me or Juno or even Sascha...but you two..."

She smiled. "They'd tip over Heaven itself if you asked them to. This plan can work...but only if you agree to it. It will take longer, and it is definitely more dangerous for you. But you won't be alone, and we'll train you to use your powers fully before we start."

"So. Need some time before you decide?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Joe on the other hand had to think longer. His inner monologue was evident on his face as his concentration turned inward.

We fix this time... then we go back and fix our own? What's the point? If we fix the past won't this future never have happened?

What if we can't change the past... then at least we'll have fixed the future and they wouldn't have to live like this any longer.

But it's not like we'd make the same mistakes.

How would we know?

This isn't like some episode of Star Trek or Back to the Future where they won't tell us everything that happened.

Yeah, I guess you're right... but what if something happens trying to fix this future? Then we won't be able to go back and change our present. That could make this future even worse.

I guess you have a point. But they didn't say it'd be easy. Besides, we know that he kills us when we just go back and try and stand up to him. Maybe we can...

Are you really ready to take a life? I mean there's no turning back from that.

How many lives has he taken? Worse, how many lives, how many families has he destroyed? How much pain has he caused?

I'll agree that we have to stop him... we'll work on the details.

Joe turned and bowed to Gwyn, then to Slider, then to Sascha. To all of them he announced, "I'm in. Let's get started, we've got a lot of work to do"

He finished looking his sensei directly in the eyes, his fire matching hers. He was ready to go, and to come as close to killing himself training as was humanly possible.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't get all this bowing, og hangon he was training his power? Ok, he's done martial arts like me and is using that to get in the right frame of mind, not a bad idea.

Gwyn lifted the bag he carried slightly as he replies, "You got somewhere I can get changed? Then let's get started. What's it going to be background, strategy or power training first?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Juno nods to Gwyn and beckons him to follow her.

"Yeah, come on and follow me," she says. "I'll show you a room you can use. Fraid we're not exactly the Radisson down here, but we should have some things you can wear. In the meantime, you probably have a lot of questions. I was there for most of it, so I'll answer as much as I can...Joe already got the big reveal so I'm all yours."

She leads Gwyn through the caves...some of them seem a bit too regular to be natural, others look like they've barely been tamed. A cavern system, perhaps, that they expanded on after finding.


Sascha steps forward. Her eyes have more expression in them than before, it seems to Joe...or maybe he's just gotten better at reading them.

"A student knows his mind best. Either go with Slider to study what we know of the novas in 'Team Tomorrow,' who will be your likeliest foes...or stay with me and we will learn more of your fire...or if you wish, you can train in another of your powers. I leave the choice to you."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Joe nodded slightly to his sensei. "Sensei, if the choice is mine, then I feel like I still have much to learn. I feel I should learn control of my power so as to not hurt my friends, and then I can learn of my, of our, foes.

And I think that, to prepare for more immediate threats and concerns, that I should learn to control water and air, as well as train further with earth before we move back to fire. That way I will know how to influence all the elements, at least basically, instead of one or two better." He hoped that she agreed and that he hadn't overstepped his bounds as a student.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Indicating the bag he carries Gwyn comments to Juno, "You don't need to worry about the clothes, I got some duplicated in the Chief's apartment. So you trained me back in the old days in your timeline? It should be pretty easy for you to do it again now then, knowing already what worked best and what didn't work."

He looks around at the tunnel system, "How did you cut these tunnels through here, it could be a handy technique in my future, assuming we manage to pull this off. Speaking of which you said that I'd always opposed this guy Pax, but in what way? I mean did I just oppose his plans, speak out about them, or did I actually attempt to attack him?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Sascha nodded at Joe, her expression betraying neither approval nor disdain.

"Air is all around us," she said. "though you may wish to go nearer the surface where you can feel wind. And these caves hide an underground lake not far from here. Earth of course is commonplace here, but I've been asked not to train you in that discipline near the inhabited caves."

Now she smirks, just a tad, and only for a moment. Then she's all serious again.

"A point to consider is that I won't be able to help you nearly as much with other elements. Fire is my nature. It is my life and my soul. The other states of matter and energy are closed to me, and always have been."

"But on some level, all four 'elements' are also one. Solid, liquid, gas and burning...they do not change the -essence- of what is. This essence is what you must seek. The very nature of what the element is. I have taught you the essence of fire. You will have to find the essence of water, earth and air for yourself. You have the tools you will need...but you must adapt those tools to the task at hand."

"Remember that your body is all the elements combined. Find the essence of them within yourself, and you will learn to control each as if they were parts of you...because that's exactly what they are."

"Which element will you seek first?"



"Well, you and me practiced a lot together," Juno answers. "Truth was that we were learning from each other, so maybe it's not quite right to say I -trained- you. But close enough. Besides, like you say, this time I can totally Yoda-out on your ass."

"The tunnels...a lot of them we just found and shaved down. Most of the artificial tunnels were made by a guy who called himself Alchemist. He could mess with matter at the molecular level. It was kind of slow going, but we found ways to speed things up after a while. Unfortunately, Alchemist was already kind of..."

She tapped her temple and waggled her finger to indicate craziness.

"And I guess pushing himself so hard didn't help any. He finally just snapped, decided he was God and went off to bring down Satan. We're not even sure he meant Pax...but he hasn't come back, so either he found Pax...or Pax found him."

"Anyway, you never got along with Pax, which is understandable. Even before he went batshit crazy, he was a hardass. Don't get me wrong, he could be charming when everything was going 'right.' But he just didn't deal well with adversity...well no." She paused, thinking. "It's more that he didn't deal well with things that made him look bad. Anything that exposed flaws in his ideas, or him...he just can't handle it. And that was BEFORE he flipped out."

"So then along comes Gwyn Jones. First off, he had trouble with your name right off the bat, and he hates being corrected. So off on a bad foot. Then, lets face it Jones, you like criticizing people. In your head, you're helping them, and you have tact...but again, friction with Pax's ego. Eventually you decided to go sign up with Colin's people. By that time you and Pax were pretty publicly at odds. And since Novus, Inc was in competition with the Project itself in some places and in some ways, Pax was furious. At you, at Colin..."

Juno shrugged. "So the stage was set. He rubbed you the wrong way, you rubbed him the wrong way. You and I sort of drifted apart once you left, but it seemed to me like you pretty much jumped at every chance to take him down a peg. And once things started getting bad, you were in a natural position to become a center of resistance."

She led Gwyn to a medium sized chamber with round, obviously artificial (though seamless and with no sign of cutting or machinery) walls. Soft dry grass and leaves covered the floor.

"I spar in here sometimes. Since your powers are mostly physical, this is as good a place as any to get started. Take a shot at me." She tapped her cheek. "So I can see how strong you are."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Joe thinks for a moment before speaking. "You said before that Fire is found in my passion, Water in my flexability, Air in my dispassion and logic and Earth in my solidity and steadfastness.

I have touched the Fire in my passion and have at least sensed Earth. Shall we go to the lake and try to be flexable with the water we find there?"

Not only was Joe suggesting where they go next, but he was also showing that he was listening to her, as she had only mentioned these things once to him, back when they first started.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"So I opposed Pax by being willing to call a jerk a jerk and to point out the problems with his plans and ideas, I can live with that." he said with a grin.

"You want me to hit you? Ok, give me a second. I felt earlier that I had a pool of greater strength that I could draw on, I want to try to tap into that first."

Gwyn takes a step back from Juno and closes his eyes, seaching for the feeling he had before. It takes a minute but he finds it there, a well-spring of great strength underlaid with a feeling of great mass and stability. "Ok, I think I've found it, now to get it working."

He tries to imagine drawing up the power from the well-spring, but nothing seems to happen. Next he imagines diving into the pool, but then is unsure how to bring the strength back with him. Finally he hits on imagining the Strength in the pool seeping into him, filling him up and weighing him down. It takes him a couple of attempts before he manages to hang onto it when he opens his eyes, but he knows when he succeeds.

Finally opening his eyes to examine himself and looking around, he sees very little if any physical change in himself or his clothes. However, he soon realises that he has sunk into the dirt of the chamber until he's feet are resting on the bedrock below. Unfortunately that puts the surface of the dirt almost at his knees. Looking up at Juno he says with a wry grin, "I guess this is where the flight abilty is meant to come in. Give me another minute."

Finding the flight was easy once he hit upon trying to link through the memory of a parachute jump he had done for charity a few years ago, a memory more vvid and easier to recall with his increased mental abilities. Getting the lightness of flight working with the weight of the density increase and strength took another five to ten attempts to get right. Finally he had the increased mass and strength he wanted and was hovering just at ground level, rather than sunk knee high in the ground.

"Right, finally then one punch to the jaw coming up."

And he punched her with a basic martial arts strike, without pulling it at all since she seems to know what she is talking about.

Click to reveal..

Gwyn's Full Density Control uses fixed Density Increase rules from the APG - see below

As presented in Aberrant, p. 189, Density Increase requires a roll and has variable result, while Density Decrease has fixed results each time. A nova may choose to have fixed, predictable Density lncrease as well. The character automatically gets (power rating + 1) levels of success, plus one per extra point of quantum spent when using the power, up to a limit of (Quantum + power rating) levels. Each level doubles the nova’s weight, adds one dot of Strength (up to Strength 5, after which extra levels add Mega-Strength up to Mega-Strength 5) and gives the character one extra soak against bashing and lethal damage. The Full Control Extra applies as usual. Affects Others lets the nova grant up to (power rating) levels of density change to a target object or person.

This means he normally get M-STR 4 from going Dense and weighs 16 times normal or ~1600kg = 1.5 tons. This is about the density of a Tungsten based Heavy Alloy.

Ignoring to hit rolls/success when he hits Juno he would do [20] + 7B for a normal Strike.

Dense Soak = 10B/7L

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...


Sascha studied Joe for a moment, then nodded and gestured for him to follow her. The lake, as it turned out, wasn't far. Several twists and turns before they actually emerged into the large natural cavern though, Joe could hear splashing and sloshing. It sounded at first like being at the beach. But down here there'd be no tides, no waves, no winds...

"What's making it do that?" he asked, breaking his stoic martial artist demeanor just for a moment.

Sascha smiled a grim little smile...but then again, most of her expressions had that grim edge to them. They rounded the corner and emerged into a cave that was large enough and dark enough that he couldn't see the far side...and as a result, it looked and felt -enormous-. A vast, dark pool of water rippling under an endless black sky. There were lamps near the door, but they didn't illuminate all that far, it didn't seem, though scale was hard to get a grip on with just stone and water to see.

Then something -moved- in the water. With that, Joe realized he now understood a small part of the primal terror of seafaring in ancient times, when someone might look down into the bright blue sea...and see something slipping smoothly past just under the surface that was as big as the boat.

This is how small you really are, the creatures in the ocean seemed to say, just by existing. We are ancient, and we are huge, and you think you own the world when most of it is OURS.

The creature in the underground lake bulged up slightly, pasty white and scaly. Worse, there was a hint of anatomy in that glimpse...it wasn't just a serpent. Something like a fin, or a hand?

"What is it?" Joe heard himself say softly. He had to fight himself not to step back when he realized that there was a bowshock developing that pointed right at he and Sascha. It was coming towards them, underwater.

"He," Sascha said, emphasizing the syllable, "is your new teacher. He'll share his insight and rapport with water with you." She lifted a hand, "Behold...Leviathan!"

As if on cue, it erupted from the water at that moment, eyeless and crusted in platelike scales and...human shaped for all that, loosely speaking. And huge.

The the things blind, draconic head split into an attempt at a smile, and Joe got a faceful of fetid, muddy-smelling breath from between row after row of sharklike teeth.




He has enough time to savor the raw physicality of what he's doing. He'd never gathered all his forces before, never just let loose with everything he had until the wind screamed in his ears and exploded away from his hands when he swung.


Jesus, was that sonic boom?

Juno, standing there with a nutty grin on her face, head tilted slightly to one side as if listening to some joke or factoid, never had a chance. Gwyn's fist plowed into that pretty Latina face...and crushed it. Hearing her bones break wasn't even the worst part. The worst part was feeling them shattering under his knuckles.

Mercifully, Juno was twisted around by the force of the blow and sent flying to the opposite wall, so Gwyn didn't have to see her face again...or what was left of it.

Horrified, he took a numb step forward. Then he heard it...a sort of wet, rustling noise. Then a popping sound, like the noise you got when resetting a dislocated arm or leg.

"Agh...fuck," Juno said, her voice muffled because her jaw was still mostly shattered. "Forgot how strong you got when you charged all the way up." She picked herself up and turned around.

Gwyn saw the damage correcting itself with astonishing speed. Her nose and eyes were already whole again, and her jaw was visibly writhing under the skin as it reassembled itself from needed parts, or just regrew them if the original parts weren't available.

It didn't stop there either. For a moment Juno was standing there, exactly as if he'd never hit her. Then her skin kept changing. Bone popped out through little holes and unfurled into armor like plates. She grew both vertically and across her shoulders until she was well over seven, maybe eight feet tall...and bulging with new muscles.

The young-appearing girl he'd been sparring with was replaced by a towering, brutish thing with an armored hide. Juno's voice came out of the carapace, "Alright, one more time. This time with feeling!"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Joe didn't know what to make of the situation, but if this was who Sascha said his new sensei was, then that was that.

As intimidated and confused as he was, Joe put one fist onto his flat palm and bowed.

"Sefu Leviathan, I have come to learn the ways of water. I am ready to learn. I ask that you teach me."

He maintained his caution as well as his bow. His eyes were on the ripples and reflection in the water, ready to try and fend off his new sensei should a test be required.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gwyn was greatly relieved at the rate at which Juno was able to recover from his hit, he knew that he couldn't have taken the damage that he could apparently dish out.

"Ok, just don't hit back like that, 'cos I'm sure I don't heal up anything like that fast, assuming I'd survive it at all."

Dropping back into a neutral stance he makes another strike.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

The Leviathan stared at him for a long moment before he blinked. When he did, his eyelids closed from both corners to the center...sideways instead of up and down. He spared a glance to Sascha, who nodded.

"I will leave you two alone then."


The word was exhaled from Leviathan, who returned his seldom-blinking gaze to Joe.

"You know that I do not control the water, as you do," the immense 'man' breathed. "But I live in it. I know it well. And you and I have talked in the past. At the time I thought it was strange you would tell me. Maybe this is why."

He paused, then swam back away from the stony shore.

"Get in the water. Do you know how to swim?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The difference is amazing. His second blow is as fast and as furious as his first. Juno, her face barely recognizable under the carapace she'd grown, grins.

There's thunderous WHAM as his fist hits the plates that have grown around her belly...and then Gwyn is dancing backwards, holding his hand and hopping around. It felt exactly like hitting a concrete wall had once felt before he changed. Now he was pretty certain a concrete wall would crumble when he hit it.

What did that mean about what Juno was made of?

"Don't worry," Juno said, settling easily into a more active posture...balanced on the balls of her feet and arms up and loose and ready. "I'll go easy on you."

The chitin, or whatever it was, scraped on itself as she moved towards him and she threw a looping punch! Gwyn quickly faded back, but it still caught him on the arm just as he got out of range.

The solid armor on her knuckles gave it some force, but the strength she hit him with was no more than a decently strong man would muster...was she testing him?

(Using Str ***...does not damage, but lets her assess his soak and try to estimate what level of force she can use with him safely. :))

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Moving around, trying to keep from getting hit Gwyn tries to spot a flaw in her chitin, somewhere that he might be able to get a little something through. In the meantime he is also thinking back over what has happend to him to try to figure another angle to take.

Click to reveal..

Use Analyse Weakness = Int roll of 5+1 dice, Mega is the first one rolled.

(11:58:00) ChatBot: (HG_Jones) rolls 6d10 and gets 8,8,3,8,4,3.

4 sux

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Joe relaxed as Leviathan spoke, and only tensed slightly as Sascha left them alone. But, he retained his best student posture as he listened to Leviathan, letting each portion of speech 'sink in.'

No, I didn't know that; I guess I should've realized, but...

We've talked in the past? Your past maybe, definately not mine. Unless... Who were you before?...

Maybe this is why? Why would this be why? But, It'd be future me, so I'd have had this training and would know what to tell him when we met later.. for me... but that'd mean that none of this changed anything... Maybe... maybe he just meant some great, cosmic, deep, fate why... Yeah, destiny, that must be it.

"I used to love to as a chile, master Leviathan. Haven't had much time for it recently," He said as he slipped off his shoes and socks before stepping in the water, trying to extend his senses into the undulating liquid. He also tried to stay as alert as possible, both redying himself for his training and keeping an eye out for any 'suprises.'

Click to reveal..
(Joe_Smith): Roll to swim - Mega first die

(21:46:49) ChatBot: (Joe_Smith) rolls 7d10 and gets 8,2,2,3,3,9,4.

(21:47:10) (Joe_Smith): 3 sux @ std diff

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...