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Aberrant: The Middle Children of History - What it's like to be me [Complete]


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When Elspeth returned from the War Game it was on a high note and she felt much relieved to have on of the major problems off her shoulders. Unfortunately, that was only one problem and the easiest one to solve at that. It was the most immediate and potentially damaging issue she faced, but it was an easy one. Once the general's had been reigned in and sworn never to countermand her orders again a quick phone call to the neighboring countries had sufficed to drop the tension back down to normal levels.

"Note to self: Make sure media picks up on the fact that military tensions have eased due to royal intervention." That sort of thing will play well in public opinion. I'll need to get Darres to pose in uniform speaking to a division of the army, that would look really good in the sound bite. Elspeth's mind drifted from soundbites and media manipulation to how good Darres would look in that uniform. He was seriously yummy, but then so was Conner and he owed her a date.

Dang, I'm too busy for that. She pulled her mind back on task with a force of will. Grrr, mind the size of a planet... she thought, but the hormones of a teenage girl. Heck, super hormones actually. She was tempted to shapeshift into an adult body but suppressed the urge. She had to grow up and her body had to do what it was doing or she would never grow up, at least physically. Mentally she was much older than her fourteen years, or at least she liked to think so.

She was just getting back to her throne room where she planned to do some serious thinking about the economic trap that Utopia had her in and how to get out of it when a young girl squeaked and looked as if she would faint.

Elspeth's brows furrowed in consternation wondering what this girl was doing in the palace then her palace steward rounded the corner behind the girl. The big woman frowned, "You were supposed to wait in the Kitchen." Looking up and seeing Elspeth she froze for just a second then blushed which was quite a trick for such a dark skinned woman. "Pardon the intrusion Majesty. Eileen is a visitor from the United States, a relative, my sisters daughter. She came to visit me and asked if she could look around the palace. I was going to give her a tour after I finished preparing dinner."

Eileen who was much lighter of skin had recovered by then and blushed also. "Excuse me please. It's not my aunt's fault, I got bored and wandered out of the kitchen I didn't go anywhere but look at the art in the hallway here. Please don't punish her over me." She seemed honest and Elspeth could tell she was telling the truth thanks to her abilities.

She was just about to tell the girl to feel free to look around when Martha, her steward and part time cook spoke again, "Now don't you go trying to take blame on yourself. Her Majesty doesn't punish her subjects like some ancient King or something."

Elspeth was pleased, Martha was really starting to grow into her new role and it was obvious she was making an effort to speak like an educated person. Not that she required that, but it did help with visitors, especially the foreign ones.

"Eileen, welcome to the palace, you may feel free to look around if you wish, but please do not go through any locked doors, most are personal chambers for those who live here." It occurred to Elspeth that the girl was actually a year or two older than herself, but she seemed so young. For just a moment she almost envied the girl. What would it be like to grow up normal and have a regular life? Her parents had been reading her things like Sun Tsu's Art of War and Machiavelli's The Prince, and Federalist Papers since she was three. Not that she understood them at three, but even then she had been exceptionally bright and she was able to discuss the subjects intelligently by six. By 8 she was comparing and contrasting Martin Luther King's speeches with those of Hitler, picking them apart for content, and style. Not that she agreed with what was in those things, but they were the base of her study and made for excellent study knowing that she would need to rule someday. By 10 she had topped out on any IQ or standardized test ever made. Then her parent's had been murdered and she had been forced to stop her formal studies and master the art of toppling the government of a murderer while staying one step ahead of his Elite assassins.

Elspeth felt a sudden very strong sense of nostalgia for her childhood. On impulse she said, "Eileen, why don't you join me in the throne room and talk for a bit. I'd like to ask you about what it's like to be a teen in the United States."

The girl, young woman really, beamed, "That would be so totally tomorrow!" El smiled at the slang, her quantum fueled charm made up for the fact that she had no clue what phrases were 'cool' in America. She led the way to the throne room and settled herself on the throne and gestured sending a comfortable visitors chair to come sliding across the room and stop a couple feet from the throne. She looked to Martha, "Please ask someone from the kitchen to bring us some refreshments." Seeing Martha starting to walk out she reminded, "Don't forget you command the staff, ask someone to do it, the Steward doesn't carry drinks."

She grinned at Eileen, "Your Aunt is a good woman, she gave me shelter here in the palace during Jarutu's last days although she didn't realize she was doing it at the time. She's still to used to being just a cook and tries to work too hard doing everything herself when she has a staff to do things for her."

Eileen smiled and finally burst out, "My friends are never going to believe I got to sit down and talk with you, not only a Queen, but a Nova too."

Elspeth smiled graciously, there was an art to accepting complements and not being either dismissive or seeming arrogant. She asked her visitor about America and what it was like to be a teen there. Eileen was flattered that someone famous would take an interest in her 'normal' life and talked for the better part of an hour before winding down with, "So I think I want to be a journalist. I took Journalism last year and I really liked it, we produced a school paper that actually won an award from the state." She brightened and started bouncing in her seat, "Hey, can I interview you while we talk? I would soo get an A for the first term!"

"Sure, what would you like to know?" She was a little sad, it sounded so good to have a normal life, to be able to go out on dates and to not have any worries. Her own life was so different. The lives of hundreds of thousands of people rested on her shoulders. If she didn't negotiate well families would starve; if she didn't keep an eye on her General's they could get her into a war with their neighbors that would cause thousands of deaths. If she were to hold hands or kiss a boy it would be all over the world the next day in front page articles. Talk radio and news anchors would speculate about whether she had used her powers to force him into it. Others would question whether it was possible for her to not force someone into something due to her quantum powered personality. She had seen what the press had done to other novas and so she just avoided anything that could be used against her. Hell, soon not dating would probably be used against her. Give them time and they would use anything.

When her guest asked, "What's it like being a Queen and a Nova?" So Elspeth told her, but kept the bitterness out of her voice. She was feeling sorry for herself and she knew it, so she added some of the good things, "It really is great to have the powers I have. I love to fly probably the most, but I don't get to do it much as Queen, so much stuff always waiting to be done. You know about me because I kind of famous, they call me one of the most charming people in the world and I suppose it's true, but that's as much quantum as it is anything I consciously do." That wasn't entirely true, it was a constant effort to be charming and it took a great deal of work. It was one of the things Machiavelli didn't get, you can accomplish more with a kind word and a smile, than you ever could with a whip and a sword. Her mother had taught her that so early she had no memory of any single event, but a thousand small things. Just remembering a person's name you only met once was a gift to be given that would be cherished more than a thousand dollars by most people, and it took work, and it was expected of a leader, a good one anyway.

She ended with, "Probably the most useful quantum gift I have is my intelligence. Without that I would just be a fourteen year old girl floundering in my position as Queen. As it is, even with Nova intellect it is hard to accomplish everything that needs to happen for my people to be safe and fed."

Eileen cocked her head curiously, "They have a word for that don't they? I heard it once... 'lion' or something." She frowned, "No that's not it."

"Sphinx." Elspeth smiled but shook her head, "I'm not really one. I've got enough intelligence to be called one, but I'm still just a teen like you. I don't have the experience necessary to make the kind of intuitive leaps real sphinx's make. They can look at a set of facts and base on their experience and their intelligence come up with conclusions that someone else would not make for years. I've got the brain power, but not the other half. Once I'm an adult and have experienced more of life maybe I'll be able to predict stock market crashes years in advance or the rise of new technologies based on current trends and things like that."

Eileen looked impressed nonetheless. She wasn't being entirely truthful, her mind did allow her to make very accurate guesses and leaps based on very scant information, but she didn't lie about lacking experience. Intellectually she had known how to overthrow Jarutu, but that didn't give her a clue about the emotional cost of what she had been through. That was a lesson she would never forget and remembering it would keep her humble when other Nova's would fall prey to arrogance. Another side effect is that she could see the trends now. Someday, hopefully many years from now, there was going to be a war. Novas and Baselines would fight and no one would come out a winner from that conflict. In very small and subtle ways she was already starting to prepare.

"So is that all you can do? You're super smart, you can fly and you are likable?" Eileen was taking notes for her article in her school paper.

Elspeth knew the article would make the girl's career. Major US paper's would pick up the interview and republish and analysts in governments around the world would read it and file it in folders and computer files and check marks would be applied in columns, 'Can fly', 'Nova level Intelligence', 'Nova fueled personality'. Those computers and analysts would remember, they never forgot, and they would add it all to lists for when the day came that open war was declared. It all made Elspeth sad, but she was preparing now. She had lied to her guest, she had far more powers than those three, but a power your enemy did not know you had was one that could save your life someday. The Elites knew she had nova level toughness and anyone that had seen her survive six rounds of 50 caliber shots from Jarutu's Desert Eagle. Still, no need to advertise...

The two girls talked a bit longer and finally Elspeth excused herself on the grounds she hadn't slept much in the last three days and retired for the night. And that was what it was like to be Elspeth. Even as she enjoyed the company of another girl her own age she used her because she could see what was coming and it was the little things done now far in advance of the shooting that would save lives.

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