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Aberrant: The Middle Children of History - The buck stops here. [Complete]


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With her military commanders sorted out and a day or so to relax behind her Elspeth finally felt ready to tackle the biggest issue. Well, it wasn't really a single issue at all, but a combination of issues all with the same source. Foreign corporations were allowed to rape the county's natural resources under Jarutu's rule provided they made regular payments to him. That meant that the country was effectively bankrupt, with most of the natural resources currently under foreign control and the local populations in those areas were practically slave labor. To make matters worse, the factories and mines not directly under foreign control were non-functional, allowed to lapse into such poor repair as to be extremely dangerous to operate, and those were the lucky ones. Most of the factories and manufacturing plants and mines had been gutted and the equipment sold off for quick money after the original coup.

That was the bad news.

Unfortunately there was no good news to balance it there was just bad news and even more bad news. That other bad news was that Utopia was doing it's damnedest to prevent any progress to be made. They really, really wanted to see Elspeth fail rather than become an example of Teragen success. They wanted it so much that they were willing to sacrifice the population of an entire country to see it happen. They had started their campaign of obstruction by advising all foreign businesses not to meet with her face to face, stating categorically that should they do so they would be manipulated into signing unfair business deals. They offered to mediate in any negotiations, and by mediate they meant sabotage.

If it had just been Utopia trying to influence matters, that would have been bad enough, but the corporations that were in place effectively stealing the countries resources and enslaving the locals, petitioned Utopia for protection to keep their operations from being interfered with, Utopia in turn took the petition to the UN who ruled that no operation could be stopped or interfered with pending a formal investigation under international courts. Such proceedings could last for years without determination.

Elspeth could have simply had the military seize the assets and eject the foreigners from the country, but that would have politically played right into Utopia's hands, painting her in the light of a tyrant and dictator and no better than her predecessor. It would also have turned support in the UN firmly against her. She did the only thing she could and protested the human rights violations being perpetrated under the guise of international corporate law. Utopia did it's usual job of media control and saw that the story was squelched or placed well back in the papers. Human rights groups around the world protested, but that had the same result as it always did. The people that cared, cared, and everyone else ignored it as being someone else's problem.

Within Sierra Leone things were different of course. Elspeth was able to get the message out to the people of what was occurring and took to the air explaining why things were happening the way they were. The people were angry, but patient, for the time being trusting that Elspeth could resolve the matter. Even so, sentiment against Utopia and the foreign corporations was quite heated.

The final two problems were very nearly the straws to break the camel's back. Thanks to Utopia's influence, banks would not extend credit to Sierra Leone claiming it would be a bad investment risk, preventing the monarchy from buying much needed equipment to get the factories and mines not under foreign control running again. Even when Elspeth tried to spend her own money to buy equipment Utopia was there doing all they could to block the sales or delay them in any way possible using legal red tape. Last but certainly not least, food was in very short supply, and despite there being no official embargo, shipments constantly seemed to get diverted to wrong destinations or were delayed for 'health' reasons claiming quarantine because of contamination.

In short the people of Sierra Leone were suffering and while they knew the reason and who was responsible, that didn't put food in their bellies, or money in the banks, nor did it free the virtual slaves forced to work in the mines and factories.

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With the exception of her Knight Darres there was no one for Elspeth to turn to or to vent her frustrations with. Other members of the Teragen had approached her, but she had so far firmly refused their dubious assistance. She was just grateful there were no nova's being enslaved by the foreign corporations or she might have had Geryon slaughtering the corporate oppressors. That was the absolute last thing she needed under the circumstances. She was a member of the One Race, there were no nova's being harmed or victimized, by the philosophy of the Teragen she would be perfectly justified in walking away from Sierra Leone and never looking back and Utopia would be tickled pink if she would do exactly that. What others thought didn't matter.

Glancing at Darres she answered the question of why she stayed, "It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. I owe the Teragen nothing, and Utopia can burn for all I care. The only thing that matters is that these people are my responsibility. My parent's died because they felt responsible for these people."

Playing the devil's advocate Darres quipped, "So you should die or be miserable because your parents felt responsible for these humans?" Elspeth knew him well enough now to know he would support her in whatever she decided so she didn't take offense at the question.

"No, I am going to stay and I'm going to win. Not just because I feel responsible for their well being, but because I'm not going to allow Utopia the satisfaction." What she left unsaid was that in her heart she believed Utopia was responsible for Jarutu's coup. He had been greedy and ambitious, but she doubted he would have had the brains to put together a successful assissination and coup without aide.

Darres smiled and verbally parried, "But wouldn't the people of Sierra Leone be better off if you abdicated and turned the country over to Utopia? Food would get delivered, and the foreign corporations would have to be brought into check since Utopia would then be responsible and they don't allow human right's violations under their jurisdiction."

A growl escaped Elspeth's throat and she said fiercely, "I will not give them the satisfaction. This place is mine! These people are MY responsibility and I will beat Utopia at their own game." Then she said the thing that she had never given voice to before, "They are responsible for the death of my parents. I can't prove that, but I see their hand in it as clearly as I see their hand in preventing food from being delivered to my people now."

Her knight was surprised at the loss of control, "My apologies my Queen, I did not mean to offend. I was just curious about why you are going to such lengths for mere humans."

Elspeth visibly relaxed, "I do care because they are my responsibility. You may not understand that, it doesn't exactly fit in the mainstream Teragen philosophy, but it's who I am. Think of it this way if you must; they may not be novas, but they are still people and they have the potential of becoming members of the One Race." She looked at Darres to see his reaction and finished, "Even if you don't understand why, just know that I'm staying here, and I plan to win this fight."

A grin spread across Darres face, "Thank you majesty, honor to stand by your side." It was apparent that the young nova was looking forward to pitting their effort against the might of Utopia.

Elspeth smiled in turn and placed her hand gently on his arm leaving unsaid her thanks at his support.

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"The most immediate problem is food. We've got food shipments not arriving because Utopia is interfering with delivery. Entire ships full of grain and other food stuffs are sitting rotting at docks around the world, food that I paid for out of my own pocket. I want that delivered, and we're going to see to it. I want you to put together detail of soldiers for retrieval duty. Make it 1000 men, all big and burly and able to lift and haul. Make sure some of them can operate fork lifts and other equipment. I can't hijack the ships that food is on, but I can open warps directly into their cargo holds to retrieve what we've paid for. We'll do exactly that; warp in, grab what belongs to us and transfer it into warehouses here. We'll have to have it tested before we hand it out to make sure Utopia didn't actually contaminate any of the food just to be safe, but even if some of it is bad, we should be able to get the food flowing again. We'll want to hit as many of them as close together as possible. Once Utopia catches on they'll start guarding the food or actually poisoning it." She chuckled, "While that's happening I'll record a message and publish it on the opnet explaining our actions and showing receipts for everything we take, that way they can't accuse us of piracy. The will bitch and moan anyway about violating quarantine and such, but we'll beat them to the punch on this."

Darres grinned, action was what he liked and this was direct action even if it would be non-violent. "Assuming you want to avoid any casualties. I'll have the men armed with non-lethal weapons for defense."

Elspeth didn't respond. At that moment she was occupied. As Darres watched a second Elspeth seemed to materialize out of thin air. Elspeth was concentrating and had one hand outstretched palm extended. The second ghostly Elspeth appeared mirroring the first, palm touching palm. Over a period of several seconds the apparition took on solidity until Darres could barely tell the two apart. He had seen this before and so knew what to look for, the copy of his Queen was just slightly less beautiful, slightly less charming, slightly less everything. It was subtle, but it was there if you knew what to look for.

The new Elspeth nodded to herself as if to something unsaid then lowered her hand and turned to Darres. "Let's do this." As she strode toward the door her royal gown flowed liquidly turning from a shimmering blue silk into solid black military style BDUs with crown insignia on the collar and a crown patch on the shoulder and cap. Not that anyone could ever mistake her for a regular soldier regardless of any insignia or rank markings. She was literally as different as night and day from the rank and file of the Sierra Leone troops. Milk pale skin with red hair and obviously female despite the uniform. The men of the army were generally very dark of skin and of course there were no women in the army. Elspeth intended to change that, but one thing at a time she reminded herself.

When the two had left the room the original Elspeth changed her own clothes to a more subdued but still elegant business suit, then summoned her camera crew and began to record the message that would be broadcast after the night's work was accomplished.

On the table before her were dozens of receipts for food that had never been delivered.

"People of the world. I address you directly and ask for your understanding. A grave injustice is being perpetrated against the innocent people of Sierra Leone. Here you see literally dozens of receipts for food shipments that have been paid for in full. Shipments that have never arrived here where the people are in dire need and where children are going hungry. Perhaps it is the result of some political agenda on the part of Project Utopia, or perhaps it is merely a grand oversight of monstrous proportions, but the effect is the same. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of food has been paid for, and yet none of this food has been delivered. It has sat rotting in ships and warehouses around the world. In some cases the food has been declared to be contaminated and quarantined for health reasons, in some cases simple bureaucratic red tape is preventing delivery. Attached to this transmission you will find complete details of each and every shipment that has been paid for and not delivered and the reasons given."

Elspeth put exactly the right inflection in her voice to sway the audience and she knew anyone watching would feel the effect, "All I ask is that you look at the evidence attached. How is it possible that 57 shipments all have been diverted, quarantined or held up with red tape when the children of this country are going hungry? If it were a handful of shipment's out of a few dozen that would be understandable, but 57 out of 63 total shipments? Can anyone honestly say that this could be coincidence? Look at the evidence presented and asked yourselves honestly if you believe this?"

Her gaze became harder, "I point the finger at Project Utopia. You will see that the quarantine orders on 13 of the shipments are signed by Project inspectors. Even if you do not believe this to be evidence of intentionally preventing food shipments, then I ask you, where is Project Utopia's vaunted humanitarian aide?"

The scene cut to pictures of starving children and empty markets with little food to sell before cutting back to Elspeth, "They refuse to assist the people of Sierra Leone for the most petty reasons. Because my parents were members of the Teragen, and because I have not refuted the philosophy that I was raised with they spitefully allow innocents to suffer." There was a measured amount of sarcasm in her voice as she parroted the official Utopian doctrine, "Project Utopia cannot in good conscious support an illegitimate regime."

"Odd that they were willing to provide humanitarian Aide during the brutal reign of the military dictator Jarutu, but ceased all aide when the people of this country freely elected me to replace a man whose cruelty and disregard for human life was well known around the world. I would also note that the elected government of Sierra Leone has been recognized by the United Nations as a legitimate government. It is only Project Utopia that refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of this government, in direct contradiction to their own UN mandate."

"As such, tonight the people of Sierra Leone have taken matters into our own hands. With ZERO loss of life or even injury, we have directly retrieved 15 of the shipments that have been withheld. Warehouses in Sierra Leone once again have food to distribute to the people. Today there will be great celebration here as Mothers and Fathers know that their children will be able to eat again for a time. Even so, 15 out of 57 shipments is still only a small amount compared to the food we need to continue feeding the people. I call on the United Nation and the people of the world to see to it that justice is done and that food that has been paid for is delivered in a timely fashion. There is absolutely no excuse for children to go hungry when the food is available and has been purchased. Only willful deliberate effort on the part of Project Utopia could account for 57 out of 63 shipments not being delivered. We have retrieved 15 of the 57 shipments and we call on you the people to see to it that the rest of this food is delivered."

With a definite note of righteous anger, "Let me add, that preliminary tests show that none of the shipments of food that were quarantined have any thing wrong with them. We will, test it throughly and present our findings to the World Health Organization, however, if it should turn out that none of those shipments certified by Utopian inspectors to be tainted turn out to be, then I will call upon the United Nations to perform a full criminal investigation of this matter and expect that the inspectors guilty of withholding those shipments be tried for human rights abuses, since it appears on first inspection as if they have indeed falsified reports resulting in the starvation of innocent men, women and children here in Sierra Leone. We must hold Project Utopia accountable for their actions, hold the UN responsible, hold your government's responsible, but those who willfully caused the children of an entire nation to go hungry must be held accountable!"

The crew filming the report wiped tears from their eyes and Elspeth quietly knew it had been effective. She watched as the broadcast was edited and prepared. She would not send this until her clone had reported success.

Click to reveal..


(15:47:23) ChatBot: (Elspeth) rolls 5d10 and gets 9,4,7,9,8.

4 successes


(15:47:33) ChatBot: (Elspeth) rolls 3d10 and gets 1,6,3.

0 successes

Mega Cha

(15:47:39) ChatBot: (Elspeth) rolls 5d10 and gets 2,3,10,10,7.

8 successes

Artistic Genius

(15:47:49) ChatBot: (Elspeth) rolls 5d10 and gets 3,1,6,9,10.

(15:51:16) ChatBot: (Elspeth) rolls 3d10 and gets 1,10,1.

5 successes

Total Successes on the Speech:

17 successes

Note: I was thinking she already had "Almost Live" enhancement but she does not, it will be purchased on the first of the month. I can pull this post until after the 1st if it matters or bothers anyone.

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The night went as planned. None of the food shipments was actually guarded beyond a simple warehouse security guard. No doubt that would change after tonight's activities, but for now Elspeth and Darres would make the most of surprise. At each warehouse the assault began with Elspeth and Darres teleporting in while invisible and going about the task of subduing whatever guards or night crews were on sight. She then opened a warp to let her people in and held them open long enough for fork lifts to haul the boxes, barrel, or sacks of grain through the opening and into warehouses on the Sierra Leone side. It was draining, but effective and with both Darres and Elspeth on hand at each location, there was very little that could go wrong.

Unfortunately, even with the evening's success the effort was only a stop-gap measure. Unless the broadcast plea for intervention was successful or Sierra Leone could start producing enough food for everyone then it would only be a temporary reprieve from starvation.

Elspeth did have ideas for producing more food, but even if they could implement them today, it would still take weeks for a crop to produce a harvest. On the bright side, being Queen and having such popularity at the moment there was no need for her to present proposals to a parliament and have them go through weeks of debate before passing. She simply asked her people to do what needed to be done and they complied.

It was a heady thing to have that kind of power over the lives of so many people, but she was all too conscious of how even from a happy people could arise a bloody coup to throw down a monarch. It was a lesson she would not forget, and so when it came time to make her announcement to the people she did so directly through Sierra Leone's media using all of her charm and skill.

"My people, we've scored a victory in the world when we exposed Project Utopia's complicity in trying to starve our people, but even so, we cannot continue to depend on foreign aide or even on the honesty of merchants outside our borders. We have the potential as a nation to become self-sufficient in producing all the food we need, so that we never have to rely on others again. Let us work together to make this happen and let us make the first steps now while we have food to last us a few weeks. The government under Jarutu controlled the land and took great portions as rewards and gave them to his supporters. Today, I will give that land back to the people. Anyone who wishes to farm this land can apply to be granted a portion. Those who farm the land for a period of 10 years will be granted the deed to the land that they farm. Assistance will be provided to teach anyone willing to join in this effort to feed our people so that no one will fail at the endeavor who applies themselves. We will teach you modern farming and irrigation techniques and the land that will be given out will all be good land capable of bearing strong harvests and having access to irrigation so that crops will not fail because of drought."

The image of Elspeth smiled out of opnet screens all across Sierra Leone, a benevolent and loving friend and leader, "I know you, people of our land. I know and am proud! Because you are such good people I know that response to this request will be so great that we will have to turn many people away. If you are not accepted for this program do not fear. There will be many other opportunities in the near future for you to contribute to the rise of our people back to our rightful place as a prosperous and successful people. Thank you."

Unlike in the speech to the world regarding Utopia's part in blocking food shipments, Elspeth deliberately kept her nova charm reduced to more moderate levels. It wouldn't do to create such a stampede to become farmers that no one wanted to do anything else. She had learned to be careful how she used her charm, it could be a two edged sword sometimes.

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  • 1 month later...

A week later had seen the creation of the Bureau of Agriculture within the government. Roughly thirty thousand people had signed up to become farmers, or rather, that was how many had been chosen from the tens of thousands of applicants. The land was set aside and plans were on the drawing board to install canals for irrigation. It was all very satisfying to see progress being made at such incredible speed, but as fast as it was going every week that passed was one week closer to starvation for her people.

After all the food had been processed and allocated from the shipments recovered on the night of the raid, estimates were that the country had about 7 weeks of food left. The problem was that even if all 30 thousand families could be transported to their land and begin farming today, it would still take many weeks before there was a harvest.

Two more weeks passed in the effort to settle the families and begin the process of farming. It was tedious bureaucratic work, that Elspeth left mostly to clerks, but even so just spot checking the occasional report and using her Warping abilities to help move people and their supplies took up most of the time of one of her clones for that two week period. Luckily, like the original, Elspeth's clones didn't need to sleep and could work most of the day without rest. She looked forward to the day she could relax and just enjoy life a bit, but that was a way off still. There was just too much to do now.

Once all the farmers were settled and the fields planted as best they could be without the needed irrigation, it was time for Elspeth to do what she could to make the venture a success. That mean rain, and lots of it. Sierra Leone was quite wet in some regions, and mostly covered in trees and forests, but even so there were areas that didn't get enough rain in the dry season. Some of the farmers thought Elspeth was losing touch with reality when she settled them on the driest land in the country, but when she explained about irrigation and bringing water in via canal from some of the large reservoirs, they began to believe. On day 14 from the time of the signups, they saw and understood.


"Darres, I don't need your protection, not today, not for this."

Her knight and guard frowned in frustration, "You will be defenseless while you are using your power. You still have enemies among the Elites you know. All it would take would be one of those mercenaries to show up and put a bullet through your head."

Elspeth smiled as she admired her knight standing there in his sleek black uniform. He was like a tiger, power and muscle and danger all in one package, and not bad to look at either. She relented, "Fine, you can come, but you have to stay hidden. I don't think anyone is going to attack me while I work, but if they do you will be there to stop them, just don't be seen or your presence will point out which one is the real me. My clones will be doing the same at points far enough away that we won't be overlapping much, three of us working together can cover a lot of ground even if the other two can't do as much as I can on my own."

Like a tiger Darres' smile was predatory, no doubt thinking of springing a trap on some unwary elite. "Good." The one word spoke volumes of satisfaction. Darres might be as young as Elspeth, but he was easily as dangerous as all but the most deadly elites.

Three Elspeth's stood in identical clothing, of white. It was important to set the right image, and she had no doubt there would be video of her today showing up on the opnet. This was like a chess game and she was prepared several moves in advance. Making sure her image was right was as important to ultimate victory as defeating their efforts as undermining her position through starving her people. She wore the simple gold circlet that she donned for less formal occasions, which matched well with the gold trim on her flowing white cape. Under the cape she wore white pants and blouse and boots with gold buckles. It was with calculated planning that she would look like an angel floating a hundred feet above the ground with the cape billowing out behind her almost like wings.

The three angelic Elspeth's turned to Darres, and grinned as if they had all had the same thought at the same time. The tiger suddenly looked just a little nervous. They giggled and then the real Elspeth nodded, "It's time." She reached out to take Darres hand and the four all teleported, two of the Elspeth's going to locations about 40 miles from the original as they had agreed on in planning. Darres immediately released her hand and disappeared as if he hadn't even been there.

Elspeth walked to the closest farm and spoke with the family there for a few minutes asking how they were doing and if they were settling in well. She suggested they bring their equipment in so that it wouldn't get rained on and mentioned that they should spread the word to their neighbors. That should ensure that before she was done there would be cameras rolling.

Waving to the family she floated into the air about 200 feet off the ground. The air was still and dry with no hint of rain when she ascended, but she raised her arms to the sky and gestured. In moments clouds were gathering, and a gentle rain was beginning to fall. Between Elspeth and her clones around 100 square miles of land received a good downpour. Enough to wet the ground well and ensure the crops that had just been planted would grow. She would have to repeat the process several times over the next few weeks to ensure the crops, but it would be worth it.

Before she was done she noted the presence of a news crew photographing her from the ground. She smiled knowing what a symbol she would make. The crew below was from one of the Sierra Leone stations so she knew the coverage would be fair and even portrayed in a positive light. Tomorrow or the next day Project Utopia or one of their minions would be complaining that she was tampering irresponsibly with the weather which could effect more than just her own country. She was ready for that accusation. She had Utopia's own report on terraforming Ethiopia that 'proved' weather alteration in one area by Nova's did not alter weather on a large scale.

Like a chess match, her moves and counter moves were planned several steps ahead.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Sure enough notable scientists and politicians around the world complained about her large scale weather manipulation pointing to it as being potentially damaging to the world's climate. She laughed and pointed to Utopia's report on Nova weather manipulation which justified their own terraforming efforts. That quickly silenced the critics regarding her use of her powers.

The social reformers then attacked her pointing to her new farmers as being indentured servants and only a step better than slaves. She responded by airing interviews with many of the farm families which had been conducted by independent journalists, interviews in which the people were joyful and upbeat and very grateful for their opportunity to take part in their countries prosperity.

Utopia's stooges responded saying, "Her people have been enslaved by the most insidious of all possible uses of Nova power, she has used her Nova Charisma to make the people believe they are happy doing what she wants them to do when in fact they are merely doing her bidding. There have been cases tried in the international courts which prove Novas are capable of using such charm in a manner that enslaves their followers beyond the point where they are capable of saying no, and Elspeth is widely recognized as being one of the strongest novas alive in this ability."

Elspeth's response was simple and elegant, "I would try and convince you that what you have accused me of is not true but you would only say that I am using my charm against you so instead let me just play a clip from the second half of that interview by Wolfe Blitzen with the farmers that will be aire in full later tonight on ONN the Opnet News Network."

The scene cut to Wolfe standing with a rather happy family of farmers in front of a field of sprouting crops. "Tell me, in your own words, did you really want to become a farmer or are you merely doing this out of some sense of patriotism or loyalty to your Queen?" The camera panned across the faces of the family as the question was translated. The father and obvious head of the family spoke passionately for a few moments before his words were translated back into English, "No. We do not do this for our country. We are pleased that it serves our nation, but it is for my family that we made this choice. Back in Kenema where we are from we had no chance to live like this. My family was reduced to begging under Jurutu's bloody rule." The man spat on the ground at the name then continued, "My sons could look forward to nothing more than poverty and misery for the rest of their short lives, then comes Queen Elspeth and frees us. More, she feeds us and then she gives us land!!! In my wildest hopes I never thought I would own land and be able to pass it to my children. It is a blessing and one beyond all hope of what we could have gained before."

The scene changed to another family this one headed by large heavyset older woman. Wolfe asked, "You had your own business in Freetown on the market street, what made you decide to move halfway across the country and become a farmer?" The woman nodded solemnly the spoke in broken English, "Me family was starvin. Me business was failin. Me am very happy to become farmer, not have to worry about family starvin no more. Always have food now, always have money when harvest." Wolfe creased his brows in concern, "But are you not worried about drought and crop failure? Farmers all over the world have bad years when the weather doesn't cooperate." The big woman pointed to the green fields, "Rain guaranteed by Queen. No bad years. We always have food, she promises. We am happy now."

Elspeth cut back in after the second clip, "You get the idea. Tune in to ONN tonight for the full interview with Wolfe Blitzen. You will see that the people of Sierra Leone are not being asked or subtly forced into anything. They are doing what they are out of the best possible motive, enlightened self interest, and if it benefits the nation then so much the better." That shut them up. It quickly became apparent that Elspeth was not coming off in a negative light but rather by always being one step ahead of her accusers seemed intelligent and shrewd, but at the same time caring and human. Rather than hurting her popularity and international standing it was raising it and making her a household name.

Elspeth reflected that it was good to be a sphinx even if it was lonely.

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