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Aberrant: The Middle Children of History - Settling In

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13 May 2026, Associated Press

Mysterious Nova 'Angel' Saves Phillipines

The storm was a bad one, sweeping across the Pacific with murderous intent and picking up speed as it came. Meteorologists had charted it's course as it scarcely deviated, heading in a straight line for the Phillipines. Already, the people of the islands had evacuated to the highest ground they could, and international disaster relief agencies, including Project Utopia, were standing by with food and medical aid shipments. The few novas capable of weather control had tried to pacify the hurricane, but without much success due to it's enormous size: hundreds of kilometers across. They had nibbled at the edges of the storm, but the few gaps they made had been quickly lost in the roiling clouds and squalling rain. To the people of the Phillipines, it loomed on the horizon that morning like a bruise, turning the sky ahead of it a sickly greenish tint.

Differing accounts all concurred on some details of what happened at approximately 7 am that morning as the storm began to near the outlying islands on with the speed of a freight train. Those watching saw a line of golden fire streak across the sky overhead, travelling from the east to the west and stopping about 10 miles offshore with abrupt suddenness. The figure at the head of the comet's trail resolved into the form of a 'man wreathed in golden fire and not much else' in the words of one witness. He appeared to be facing down the storm, and the watchers could discern the flaming aura around the nova getting brighter and brighter, until according to the onlookers there was a flare of golden fiery light and the hurricane simply fell apart.

"One minute it was all dark and oppressive, the way those storms make the atmosphere. The next instant the clouds just blew away, the sky went blue, and the sun came out. For us watching at the doorways to the shelters, it was the most beautiful thing we'd ever seen." said island resident Paulo Luzvimindo, 42, a local businessman.

The nova responsible is the media-shy Phaethon, who emerged onto the scene this year with several sightings in places such as Chicago and Los Angeles. Given the frequency of his appearances on the L.A. skyline, it is highly probable that he makes his home in that area.

"He came down to us when he'd dealt with the storm." said Maricel Ortenaga, 24, a student. "He circled the islands like 'whoosh', really fast, like he was checking things were all okay, then he landed by the shelter I was at and asked if we needed anything. He was like an angel. I know people say that about pretty novas all the time, but this was different. He really was like an angel. He cared about whether we were hurt or scared. He stayed and talked a little with my family and some of our neighbours, then he said goodbye, smiled and flew off. He seemed young, but mature."

The mysterious Phaethon is unknown to any previous nova census performed by Project Utopia, and speculation abounds as to who he is and where he came from. His power over the weather seems to be considerable, as he dissolved the Pacific storm completely.

* * * * *

17th July, 2026. N! Report

Too Hot To Handle?: Phaethon Takes On Wildfires

Quantum flew and sparks failed to fly this morning as the nearly-naked nova newcomer Phaethon weighed into the four day old struggle between L.A. County fire department and the latest in a series of devastating wildfires. This particular monster, springing up only 36 hours previously, had grown to roughly 400 square kilometres in size when, as County Fire Department official Zeke Westbourne said to our reporters: "Help arrived wearin' a damn loincloth."

Westbourne, 45 years old and a 20 year veteran of the fire department, went on. "I was there at the forward field HQ, and lemme tell you we were in for some serious trouble that day. The fire was threatening 12 signal towers and a heckuva lot of real estate. Worse yet, I'd just got word that about a dozen of my men had been cut off by some fast-moving flames and were stranded in some gullies about twenty miles north of us. I was tryin' to get another chopper from the western HQ to try and airlift those guys out when *whoosh*, down comes this kid with flame-red hair and nothin' on his ass but a loincloth, landing right next to me light as a feather. Polite as you please, too. He smiles and says to me "Don't worry, your men will be alright." and damn me if I don't believe him, like deep-down, move-mountains kind of belief. It was the way he said it, not like he was trying to convince me of something, but like he was simply telling me how it was going to be. Maybe it was his voice, or the look in his eye. He pats me on the shoulder and whooshes off up into the sky, trailing a golden fire anima. Of course, I think 'great, so he'll put out enough of the fire to get my guys out of there'. And that'd be cool, y'know? Because those guys are all brave guys with families. But that ain't what he did..."

"Well, I never did get the straight skinny of it, but according to the observation plane we had way up over the fire, the golden fiery kid goes zipping right across the gullies where my men were, right into the center of the entire damn fire. Now the blaze was about 400 klicks across at this point, and the governor had already issued evac orders for the entire area. The eye-in-the-sky was in contact with me, and they reported seeing the glowing dot just stop over the sea of flames. And the next thing, they told me that there was a bright flash, like a solar flare coming from this kid, and then..."

"Then the whole damn fire just stops. Blows out, like it was a birthday candle and flying Tarzan there just made a wish. No flickering, no fighting to stay alight. Bushes and trees that were well and truly on fire weren't even smoldering. And when I say the whole damn fire, I mean the whole damn fire. All 400 or so square kilometres of it. Just *poof* and gone. Well, we can hardly believe it at first. I'm radioing all the field stations, and they're all radioing me, and then it starts to cloud over and rain, fer chrissakes. Rain, in California in the summer. And it wasn't a torrent, just a gentle rain, a shower. And guess how large a shower? Yep, all the burned areas. Hell of a thing to see. It lasted about an hour."

"And yeah, he came back while it was raining and talked for a bit. Can you believe he apologised for taking so long to get involved? Apologised. He looked embarrassed, just like my teenager when he's out too late with my car. We recognised him as Phaethon, that new kid that no-one knows Jack about. Well, one of my crew recognised him. Anyway, he was all "aw shucks t'weren't nothin'" about putting out the blaze, but we could all tell he was pleased as could be with his work. We all thanked him, and he took off just as you newsies arrived. Last thing he said to me was: "It's no big deal. I was just being a good neighbour."

* * * * * * *

Assorted Headlines from July to October, 2026

Phaethon Visits L.A. Nightspot. Pictures on page 4

Phaethon Catches Jumper: "In the brief minute we spoke he changed my life" says unnamed man

Church of Michael Archangel attempts to sue Phaethon for "Impersonating a member of the Heavenly Host and thus mocking our faith" Judge throws case out of court.

Who Are Phaethon's Parents? One year on, and the nova described as having literally nothing to hide is still a mystery.

Phaethon GAY? Photos of young nova speaking with QNA members in San Francisco. "He was just curious what all the fuss was about." says Glamorra.

Wildfires: 0, Phaethon: 4. The changing face of California's struggle with untamed flame.

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3rd November, 2026

The high-rise apartment building overlooked a sizeable portion of downtown Los Angeles, a gleaming white stone and glass construct that reared proudly into the dawn sky, it's top catching the first rays of the rising sun. The small yellow star's rays glinted on the polarised glass windows and shot small flashes of twinkling light from the neighbouring buildings. Those same rays also played over the lean figure sitting on the balcony rail of one of the east-facing apartments, causing his green eyes to shimmer with sparks that swirled in their verdant depths like motes of molten gold.

Phaethon smiled as he watched the sun rise. He never tired of the sight, never grew bored with the feeling of Sol's light bathing his gold-tanned skin like warm water. He tucked a stray lock from his mantle of windblown red-gold hair behind his ear and peered down at the streets below. They were still in darkness, but lightening perceptibly to his keen eyes. The youth glanced over his shoulder at the darkened bedroom behind him, the sliding door open just enough for him to slip out and the curtains beyond it closed. He smiled to himself. Infinity was still asleep, her dark hair tousled across her pillow and framing her pale features. He could picture it clearly as he listened to her soft, steady breathing, so many times had he laid down next to her and just watched her sleep.

Smiling still, he pushed himself off the balcony and plummeted down in a free-fall, his eyes closing as he enjoyed the rush of wind in his hair and the exhilaration of movement. About 100 feet above the sidewalk he laughed out loud and his anima sprang to life, it's ghostly golden flames dancing over his body and in his hair as his downward plunge became a graceful swoop, leveling out barely twenty feet from the ground. He headed downtown about ten blocks, the streets and buildings flashing past, before landing lightly outside a Starbucks. Wearing only a pair of loose-fitting black beach shorts Phaethon walked into the store, flashing a radiant smile at the other customers as he moved up to the counter. The two girls working the early shift smiled at him, nudging each other below the level of the counter. It wasn't every morning the young nova came into the store, but it happened often enough that the manager seldom had to ask twice for volunteers to work the usually unpopular breakfast shift.

"Hello Rosa, hello Kat." Phaethon greeted them both with easy familiarity and a warm smile that could melt a glacier, all the more so for it's guileless friendliness.

"Hi Phaethon!" Their voices were somewhere between a sigh and an excited squeak as the object of their unrequited affections ran his eyes over the pastry selection. He had about him a curious mixture of innocence and self-possessed maturity that was as baffling as it was attractive. He had to know, didn't he? But he gave no sign of it.

"I'll take two Venti nova-strong lattes and six of those cinnamon Danishes to go, please." he told Rosa as he drew a fold of bills from his pocket, handing her a fifty. He waited patiently for his drinks in a graceful semi-slouch, hands loosely tucked into his pockets as he watched the other customers with a warm smile as they stared at him over their coffee. Some of the regulars played it cool, but most just stared along with the newcomers at the golden youth who seemed to glow like the dawn brightening the streets outside. You could hear a pin drop in that store.

"Here you go, Phaethon." Kat said with a dreamy-eyed smile as she passed over the bagged-up goods. He smiled back and, with a cheery wave to everyone, breezed out through the glass doors. The room's occupants let out a collective sigh, some blinking as though coming back to reality.

"Seemed a nice guy." said a man wearing the uniform of a paramedic. There were answering nods from the others in the queue.

"He's the firefighter, right?" asked another customer. Kat shook her head.

"Kinda. He helps our boys with the big wildfires, but he's not paid for it. He just does it." There was a murmur from those present to whom this was news, and the day started to get back to normal.

Back at the apartment, Infinity Jones was getting certain signals that someone wanted her to wake up. The first clue was the smell of coffee that could practically glue a body's eyes open. The other signals were, in rapid order: a hand stroking her hair, the smell of cinnamon and sugar, and the tickle of mischievous breath on her ear. The soft voice murmuring endearments was also a hint. Over the last year Phaethon had become, amongst other things, a master at gently waking up someone who tended to regard mornings as a waste of good bed time.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Infinity stretched first, a necessity for her in the mornings. Phaethon didn't mind; he braced her body as she half-leaned, half-rolled against him. "Mmm," she said, which was the first sign that she was well and truly awake. He'd seen her stretch, get comfortable against him and fall asleep again. But words usually indicated something more.

The coffee and danishes were tempting, but nothing drew her like the beauty of reddish-gold hair and sparkling green eyes. Infinity stared at him, reminding herself that she'd received a treasure in him that she didn't deserve. "Morning, handsome," she murmured, half-expecting to wake up and find himself alone. Smiling, she kissed him gently. "How'd you not-sleep?"

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"Entirely un-like a baby." It was hard to say which sparkled more brightly: his eyes or his smile. The last year had seen Phaethon grow in a lot of ways, but some things didn't change at all, Infinity reflected. One of those was the fact that he lit up the room (alright, lit up the room even more) when she kissed him. He kissed Infinity lingeringly, enjoying the feel of her in his arms as he stroked her back.

"It was a quiet night. I watched you sleep for awhile." his fingers ran through her black hair "Then went flying. Did a lot of reading too." He let go of her enough to pass her a coffee. "I was thinking of going out today and doing something fun."

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