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Aberrant: Quantum Zero - Quantum Zero

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"Get your ass in here now! You're the f*ckin' primary weapon, Link!"

"Link? Move it. Take out their stealth and defenses first if you can, but do it now!"

Link having already heard the start of a battle already had doubled back, realizing how badly he had misjudged who was in the alley. His eyes and mind focus on the alley to find the target he's sure is there. (Unless he sees anything, he's just on high alert)

"Hold your fire."

Ian doesn't let his focus go down one bit as he figures out the coversation. His eyes narrow as the Templar makes the threat to turn someone into another one of those.. those.. things.

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"I'll come and answer your questions later John. I'm glad you're okay."

John nods to Terry.

Eel moves up besides John, slipping an arm around his shoulders & holding him fondly. Once he's Dormed-down even the constant small electrical arcs which dance over her body jolt John quite painfully, a savage contrast to when he's the bear & can take her fully-charged field in his stride.

John gasps slightly and flinches away at the sudden electricity - then grits his teeth and puts his arm around the Terat's scaled waist. If I can take it as Glacier, I can take it without him.

'Synapse here found you via one of Utopia's own satallites,' he indicates the holographic young man next to him, who winks at John as Orzaiz continues, 'we're in The Blackburn - a hotel & nightclub located in the Harlem district of New York City. It's a safe place for those who follow the philosophies of Teras... Or the "Teragen" as we're more commonly known. As for the damage,' he waves casually behind John & Eel where both ice & high voltage have done their bit to damage the carpets, bar, & nearby tables & chairs, 'spare it no more thought. I'm close friends with the owner, & besides, I'll happily pay for any damage you cause while you're a guest here. Money is, after all, only a tool. People are important, John, people like you.'

John's awe and gratitude are plainly evident on his face, both at the stunningly executed rescue and at Orzaiz's generosity.

'Which do you prefer by the way? "John" or "Glacier"? I know that some of us, like the lady,' he nods to Eel, 'prefer to distance themselves from their more mundane roots.'

John blinks - apparently the teen has never really thought about it before.

"Uh, whichever you prefer, really. I guess as a rule of thumb, I go by 'John' when I'm dormant, and 'Glacier' when I'm using my powers."

He listens carefully to the rest of what Orzaiz has to say, then is careful to extricate himself completely from Eel (to avoid a three-body static shock) before returning the Count's firm handshake. Bracing himself for the shock, he then takes Eel's hand again, powering up as they walk away and leave a swathe of destroyed carpeting in their wake.

'Well, maybe not too comfortable...' ::sly

Glacier grins back at him.

"It was a pleasure to see you again, sir."

'It all sounds pretty heavy, I know, but it's really just a change in lifestyle - instead of living as a mutant baseline, you live as a true Nova. I really think it could help you out, Glacier. There's some practical philosophy & meditation & stuff to learn, & we have tutors who can guide you through the first steps, but ultimately it's an individual journey of self-discovery.'

Glacier nods.

"I've actually tried meditation before, with.. well, mixed results. One of Masters' people tutored me, and I actually got to where I can put myself into a trance, and it actually seemed to help a little. Before we met, the rage was even more indiscriminate than it is now - if this little skirmish had happened six months ago, I would have gone for Terry the second Psyche got out of range. And I probably wouldn't have been able to shout to him."

Her smile splits into a grin ::biggrin ,

'Besides - who do you think knows more about the dark side of being a Nova: us or Team Tomorrow?'

Feigning surprise, Glacier returns,

"Hey, you had me at 'Welcome home, stud'." ::wink ::biggrin

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Derek follows the explanations quite closely.

'Your own creation, Interface, may be another matter, but we're still looking into the exact reactions which may occur between the Biosuit & your "outfit". We may not have a final conclusion until we apply some practical testing.'

"I suspected that may be the case. Given that both items need, essentially, skin-contact I suspect them to be mutually incompatible."

He grins.

"But I'm sure a preliminary examination will clear that up for me."

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The Templar's artifical eyes stare red at The Ghost. With a flick of the wrist it tosses the blonde braid to land at the Elite's feet...

'Zanzibar Theatre, one hour. After that, she replaces what you took from us.'

With an eye on the Templar, Vinnie kneels down to pick up the braid. He studies it for a few seconds, checking the colour, texture and scent for a confirmation of his fears. When he stands up, he seems to weigh the braid in his hands while quietly assessing the situation.

Inside the shop's back room the Hispanic girl frowns & says quietly,

'The Zanzibar Theatre has been abandoned for years - an old movie place a few blocks from here...' glancing up at The Ghost she adds, with a slight tremor in her voice, '... I could take you there if you want...'

The Ghost smiles slightly under his mask, giving the girl a brief glance to indicate he just might take her up on that.

Marco snorts & shakes his head,

'That is so a set-up, Ghost. In any case, when did you start to be the type to lose your dames?' ::sly

Looking over his shoulder Vinnie replies

"And I'm not about to start now." ::glare

Then he turns back to the Templar, his voice calm, but with an undercurrent of threat in it.

"I've done you a favor, Templar, and this is how you repay me? Had I not taken care of your little pet, you'd have had the chainmailed fist of a certain Knight so far up your ass by now you'd be pissing steel wire. I've tried reasoning with you people all the way, and you take a non-combatant hostage? I'm a f*cking Elite, goddamit! Did you think about picking up the phone and call my agent?"

Vinnie lets the last question hang in the air - wondering for a second if the Templars know who they've captured - before he continues.

"I'm not meeting you there without proof that she's alive."

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"I've done you a favor, Templar, and this is how you repay me? Had I not taken care of your little pet, you'd have had the chainmailed fist of a certain Knight so far up your ass by now you'd be pissing steel wire. I've tried reasoning with you people all the way, and you take a non-combatant hostage? I'm a f*cking Elite, goddamit! Did you think about picking up the phone and call my agent?"

The Stranger, his outward demeanor displaying all calm patience, hopes his active vidcam and audio is recording all this for review later. Having arrived at the most likely conclusion that the Templars here are well-trained and exceptionally well-equipped soldiers, he's already considering the best tactics to use against them. For the moment however, he simply observes.

"I'm not meeting you there without proof that she's alive."

*Good idea. But let's see how they react to the demand.*

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Mean Streets:

Heading back to the alley where he saw movement, away from where he heard the brief sounds of battle, Link comes face-to-face with a well-known figure as he steps from the dark shadows. Clad in chainmail & a flowing red & black outfit the Gothic Knight stands before the Elite, his voice forceful even though it's pitched at a mere whisper,

'As the bonded municipal defender of New York City I'm going to give you a chance to walk away from this, Link, before you get yourself into real trouble. I know that DeVries plays fast & loose with the law, but you're in my town now - hired muscle or not, if you get yourself involved in an illegal drugs deal, you'll have to deal with me.'

Behind the shop...

"I'm not meeting you there without proof that she's alive."

As he turns to leave - his hi-tech cloak shimmering to conceal his image, the Templar replies,

'That's your choice - after an hour it won't matter anyway.'

The remaining visible Templars also begin to vanish as they activate their stealth technologies & start to leave.

Gettin' Suited 'n' Booted:

"I suspected that may be the case. Given that both items need, essentially, skin-contact I suspect them to be mutually incompatible."

Chen nods,

'We presume that also.'

"But I'm sure a preliminary examination will clear that up for me."

'Quite.'

Addressing the Novas as a whole she then asks,

'Who wants to volunteer to help demonstrate how to don a biosuit?'

The Blackburn Hotel:

*Well...you certainly know how to cheer me up!*
"Hey, you had me at 'Welcome home, stud'."

Three enjoyable days of relaxation (& censored scenes of Nova-level kinkyness) later Terry & John are both asked to meet with Eel in the bar. It's early morning, so there's no-one else about - just some of the inert staff members downstairs cleaning up after the monkeys from the previous night's clubbing. As they enter Eel undulates over to John to give him a kiss, then turns & smiles at Terry,

'I guess we need to get the soundproofing improved in this place: PathFinder complained to me that Glacier & I were making more noise than you & her...' ::sly

She laughs, a webbed hand squeezing John's butt as she does so ::blush , then says,

'Right - to business. Both you guys can go without breathing, correct? I'm looking for a couple of macho Terats to help me out with a little problem some buddies of mine over at Greenwar asked me to deal with. I take it you both know how to swim? Well there's this new underwater 'research facility' off the cost of Japan which has just gone on line - only it's really a thin pretext for extracting rare minerals from the ocean bed. Typical baseline thinking - they use Nova-invented tech to find new ways to destroy the environment. The aquatic life in the area has already been damaged, & once this thing starts up full production it'll cause an eco-disaster.'

Shaking her head the aquatic Terat adds,

'The Utopians don't care - they only fix baseline mistakes after the fact - & anyway, this wouldn't get them much press, & would require troublesome political bullsh!t with the Japanese. I don't care if the monkeys wipe each other out, but there's a whole bio-system down there around those undersea volcanic vents which is unique, & which needs a little help fighting back. I reckon that help is us.'

Obviously angry & concerned as she outlines the problem, Eel then breaks into a grin again ::biggrin ,

'So - you guys in? I can't offer you any more Tomorrowites to off, but I'm sure you'll get to do some smashing...'

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Addressing the Novas as a whole she then asks,

'Who wants to volunteer to help demonstrate how to don a biosuit?'

::huh Raising his hand "This is going to hurt isn't it Doctor? I can tell, it's going to hurt". Will says as he walks towards the suits "So which one is mine?".

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'Right - to business. Both you guys can go without breathing, correct?

Glacier, his icy draft pervading the bar, decides to just ignore the question.

How quickly they forget..

'The Utopians don't care - they only fix baseline mistakes after the fact - & anyway, this wouldn't get them much press, & would require troublesome political bullsh!t with the Japanese. I don't care if the monkeys wipe each other out, but there's a whole bio-system down there around those undersea volcanic vents which is unique, & which needs a little help fighting back. I reckon that help is us.'

The bear's sleek muzzle raises slightly, giving Glacier the illusion of meeting Eel's gaze, despite the fact that he had already been looking at her. An outdoorsman to the core, John immediately sides with Greenwar on the issue, deeply offended at the news of such a crime against the environment. The dark figure shrouded within the anima nods to Eel from a barstool, then appears to turn to Terry to observe his reaction.

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Three enjoyable days of relaxation (& censored scenes of Nova-level kinkyness) later Terry & John are both asked to meet with Eel in the bar. It's early morning, so there's no-one else about - just some of the inert staff members downstairs cleaning up after the monkeys from the previous night's clubbing. As they enter Eel undulates over to John to give him a kiss, then turns & smiles at Terry,

'I guess we need to get the soundproofing improved in this place: PathFinder complained to me that Glacier & I were making more noise than you & her...'

Terry frowns a bit as his eyes go up and down Eel's tail

"Er, how do you and Glacier uh..." ::confused ::huh

'Right - to business. Both you guys can go without breathing, correct? I'm looking for a couple of macho Terats to help me out with a little problem some buddies of mine over at Greenwar asked me to deal with. I take it you both know how to swim? Well there's this new underwater 'research facility' off the cost of Japan which has just gone on line - only it's really a thin pretext for extracting rare minerals from the ocean bed. Typical baseline thinking - they use Nova-invented tech to find new ways to destroy the environment. The aquatic life in the area has already been damaged, & once this thing starts up full production it'll cause an eco-disaster.'

Shaking her head the aquatic Terat adds,

'The Utopians don't care - they only fix baseline mistakes after the fact - & anyway, this wouldn't get them much press, & would require troublesome political bullsh!t with the Japanese. I don't care if the monkeys wipe each other out, but there's a whole bio-system down there around those undersea volcanic vents which is unique, & which needs a little help fighting back. I reckon that help is us.'

Obviously angry & concerned as she outlines the problem, Eel then breaks into a grin again  ,

'So - you guys in? I can't offer you any more Tomorrowites to off, but I'm sure you'll get to do some smashing...'

The bear's sleek muzzle raises slightly, giving Glacier the illusion of meeting Eel's gaze, despite the fact that he had already been looking at her.  An outdoorsman to the core, John immediately sides with Greenwar on the issue, deeply offended at the news of such a crime against the environment. The dark figure shrouded within the anima nods to Eel from a barstool, then appears to turn to Terry to observe his reaction.

Terry sits back in his chair, elbow resting on the armrest, finger over his upper lip as his black orbs seem to darken even more whilst lost in thought. He remains silent for a bit when Eel finishes and slowly looks up.

"Eel...what is it you expect me to do exactly? You know I won't kill anyone, and I won't stand by and let you kill them either...If I go, no one dies...and that means getting the people down there out in one piece. It means rounding them up and warping them out."

Terry looks at John

"Do you think you can control yourself?"

Looking back at Eel

"What do you know of the installation?"

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"Er, how do you and Glacier uh..." ::confused ::huh

Glacier just looks at him blankly.

Terry looks at John

"Do you think you can control yourself?"

Nodding, Glacier says,

"Oh, yeah. I don't think anyone there will be stupid enough to do anything to provoke me, really. I've been on the evening news a couple times and they'll know what to expect if they do. Besides, either one of you two can calm me down if things get ugly."

Cracking a grin sharp enough to be visible in silhouette, he turns to Eel, adding,

"You, on the other hand, tend to just make things much worse." ::sly

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Glacier just looks at him blankly.

Nodding, Glacier says,

"Oh, yeah. I don't think anyone there will be stupid enough to do anything to provoke me, really. I've been on the evening news a couple times and they'll know what to expect if they do. Besides, either one of you two can calm me down if things get ugly."

Terry cracks a lop-sided smile

"Oh, they'll be stupid enough, believe me. But you shouldn't have to rely on us..You can scare the living daylights out of them, but no killing. It's cowardly and it's tasteless. The question is whether or not you can keep your head when the action starts."

Cracking a grin sharp enough to be visible in silhouette, he turns to Eel, adding,

"You, on the other hand, tend to just make things much worse." ::sly

*That's what I'm afraid of...*

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Gettin' Suited 'n' Booted:

Not having been very interested in being the guinea pig, Mike let's out a sigh of relief when Will volunteers, smiles and quips, "Good luck Will, we're all pulling for you...", then takes a few cautious steps back.

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"Oh, they'll be stupid enough, believe me. But you shouldn't have to rely on us..You can scare the living daylights out of them, but no killing. It's cowardly and it's tasteless."

Glacier's expressions are difficult to read from outside the anima, especially in a dark bar, but he seems annoyed by this..

"Jesus, Terry, you think I don't know that? I don't do it because I like it!"

'The question is whether or not you can keep your head when the action starts."

Glacier sighs.

"You're right. Maybe I should be dormant for this one? You used to be a cop - can you show me how to use a gun?"

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Glacier's expressions are difficult to read from outside the anima, especially in a dark bar, but he seems annoyed by this..

"Jesus, Terry, you think I don't know that? I don't do it because I like it!"

Terry returns Glacier's gaze, his own eyes windows to the depths of space.

"I know, John. Luckily you're with the right people now to help you overcome this...challenge..

Glacier sighs.

"You're right. Maybe I should be dormant for this one? You used to be a cop - can you show me how to use a gun?"

"Can you get hurt while dormed?"

Terry shakes his head

"Can't you keep control if they shoot at you? You won't feel a thing, they won't hurt you. You've got to teach Glacier that baselines...most baselines...just aren't worth it."

Terry folds his hands together in front of his chest as his arms lie on the armrests.

"If we're lucky, we can destroy the station without any interference from them or from Nippontai. We just need to break communications, or even better...make it so everything seems normal while we round them up..."

Terry looks at Eel

"Do you know anyone that could help us with that? "

...

Terry eyes them both

"I know this is a lot more work than just breaking the station walls and drowning them all...but it's worth it in the long run. Novas that think Teragen are monsters might come to respect the Terats. join us. I know I was on the fence for a long time, most killings seemed unjustified to say the least. Baselines that survive may thank us for our leniency and repent, they probably won't work in environmental hazards anymore and they'd spread the word. If a dog pees on your carpet or destroys the furniture, you don't kill it. You slap it on the nose so it won't do it again..."

Terry knew analogies to animals seemed the best way to communicate with these people...

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The Lair:

"This is going to hurt isn't it Doctor? I can tell, it's going to hurt."

Doctor Chen shakes her head,

'It shouldn't... although it hasn't been tested yet...'

"So which one is mine?"
"Good luck Will, we're all pulling for you..."

Chen walks over to one of the male-shaped suits which appears to be about Will's size. Her fingers dance over a small touch-screen next to the tube for a moment, & the liquid within begins to drain. Glancing back at Will she says,

'Strip - you need to be naked.'

Emma lets out a little embarrassed giggle, then hides her face in Nate's shoulder... ::blush

Once the fluid's drained from the tube it retracts into the floor mounted housing, leaving the biosuit itself piled at the bottom, damp & shiny with the stiffer pieces giving it a strange shape as it lies there. Turning to the other Novas Doctor Chen waves them over,

'Hold the suit up please.'

Once it's being held upright, Chen takes Will's hand & runs his fingers down the front of the chest & abdomen. It feels slimy & cool as his fingertips trace along the damp leather-like fabric. Then, as he removes his hand, there's a wet snapping sound & the front of the suit splits open down an invisible seam. Pulling one side of the suit open Doctor Chen reveals that it has a muscular thinkness to it, the outside leathery plates & hide contrasting the pinkish-brown mucous-slick corded sinewy interior. When she pulls the other side open as well several strands of internal mucous stretch across the gap, before snapping & trickling back down in thick globs. To Will Doctor Chen says,

'Just step into it like a jumpsuit. Push your limbs in as far as possible, then try to relax. Then we can fit the catheter,' she touches a small thorn-like protusion within the groinal area of the suit which seems to be attached to a coiled length of vein-like tubing, 'pull the hood into place,' she indicates the semi-hard full-head hood / helmet fastened to the suit's fleshy neck, 'make sure your breathing tubes are in place,' prising open the neck of the hood she touches another pair of thorn-like protusions, 'then seal you up.'

To the other Novas she adds,

'Everyone pay attention, you'll all need to know how to do this.'

The Blackburn Hotel:

"Er, how do you and Glacier uh..."

Eel grins,

'You want polaroids Terry? Or would you prefer joining in?' ::sly

"Eel...what is it you expect me to do exactly? You know I won't kill anyone, and I won't stand by and let you kill them either...If I go, no one dies...and that means getting the people down there out in one piece. It means rounding them up and warping them out."

'What do I expect "exactly?" Terry, I'm not a military commander - I'm a friend asking for some help with a good cause - you just do your thing. If you can get the inerts out without killing them, then fine - my priority's stopping the ecological damage. That I'm going to do with or without you... & without you there's no way I can help the monkeys breathe underwater.' ::wink

"Do you think you can control yourself?"
"Oh, yeah. I don't think anyone there will be stupid enough to do anything to provoke me, really. I've been on the evening news a couple times and they'll know what to expect if they do. Besides, either one of you two can calm me down if things get ugly... You, on the other hand, tend to just make things much worse."

Eel again grins,

'What? You're not calm around me? Can't think why...' ::sly

"Oh, they'll be stupid enough, believe me. But you shouldn't have to rely on us..You can scare the living daylights out of them, but no killing. It's cowardly and it's tasteless."
"Jesus, Terry, you think I don't know that? I don't do it because I like it!"
"I know, John. Luckily you're with the right people now to help you overcome this...challenge..."

Eel nods,

'Yeah - no point in doing something you don't enjoy...'

"The question is whether or not you can keep your head when the action starts."
"You're right. Maybe I should be dormant for this one? You used to be a cop - can you show me how to use a gun?"
"Can you get hurt while dormed?.. Can't you keep control if they shoot at you? You won't feel a thing, they won't hurt you. You've got to teach Glacier that baselines...most baselines...just aren't worth it."

Eel snorts,

'A gun? Come on Glacier, you're beyond such things now. Weapons like that are just a crutch for the monkeys who haven't evolved their own claws. In any case, I doubt you can breathe underwater when dormed...' ::rolleyes

"If we're lucky, we can destroy the station without any interference from them or from Nippontai. We just need to break communications, or even better...make it so everything seems normal while we round them up... Do you know anyone that could help us with that? "

The aquatic Terat gives Terry a pained look, then shrugs,

'I don't see it being an issue. I imagine they have a hardline communications set-up anyway - they're pretty deep. That'll just take one swipe from Glacier to disable. No need to go running off for more help than we've got in this room.'

"I know this is a lot more work than just breaking the station walls and drowning them all...but it's worth it in the long run. Novas that think Teragen are monsters might come to respect the Terats. join us. I know I was on the fence for a long time, most killings seemed unjustified to say the least. Baselines that survive may thank us for our leniency and repent, they probably won't work in environmental hazards anymore and they'd spread the word. If a dog pees on your carpet or destroys the furniture, you don't kill it. You slap it on the nose so it won't do it again..."

Eel flinches,

'Wow Terry - you have been hanging around his Countship a lot, haven't you? You worry about what the inerts think if you like, I'm worried about the fish.'

"What do you know of the installation?"

'Well, ' Eel begins, 'we have a general, but not a specific, location. That's why you both need to be able to breathe underwater & survive at high-pressures: we'll need to find the place once we're down there. It's most likely a highly automated operation, but there'll be some staff about to fix stuff that gets broken & direct the mining & stuff. I'm guessing they'll have some of those nice little mini-sub things too. The general area's highly volcanic - hence the rich mining - so pockets of heat, & pockets of unique life too. They haven't delivered any minerals to the surface yet, but I'd imagine they'll have a ship of some kind outfitted for transporting the stuff once it gets there.'

With a shrug she adds,

'No-one's seen the place yet - there's not much I can tell you without it all being pure speculation.'

(Knave: attempted to fix quotes, but no joy - returned to original state)

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"Can't you keep control if they shoot at you? You won't feel a thing, they won't hurt you. You've got to teach Glacier that baselines...most baselines...just aren't worth it."

"Actually, I'm not sure. The last time I took an actual gunshot was a while ago, and that was, like, twenty shotguns at the same time. Also, I had just erupted, and I've gotten a lot tougher since then."

He shrugs.

"I do know one way we can find out pretty easily, though.." ::indifferent

'A gun? Come on Glacier, you're beyond such things now. Weapons like that are just a crutch for the monkeys who haven't evolved their own claws. In any case, I doubt you can breathe underwater when dormed...'

Glacier blinks, imperceptibly. She has a point.

'Well, ' Eel begins, 'we have a general, but not a specific, location. That's why you both need to be able to breathe underwater & survive at high-pressures: we'll need to find the place once we're down there. It's most likely a highly automated operation, but there'll be some staff about to fix stuff that gets broken & direct the mining & stuff. I'm guessing they'll have some of those nice little mini-sub things too. The general area's highly volcanic - hence the rich mining - so pockets of heat, & pockets of unique life too. They haven't delivered any minerals to the surface yet, but I'd imagine they'll have a ship of some kind outfitted for transporting the stuff once it gets there.'

With a shrug she adds,

'No-one's seen the place yet - there's not much I can tell you without it all being pure speculation.'

Glacier nods speculatively.

"All right. What if I cut communications, then stay in the water with Eel while Pathfinder and Terry play crowd control, evacuate the humans, and themselves. Using telepathy, Pathfinder gives us the go-ahead, and we f*ck up the machines before leaving ourselves?"

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Eel grins,

'You want polaroids Terry? Or would you prefer joining in?'

Terry holds his hands together and perfect white teeth flash as he grins

"I like to vatch..." ::rolleyes ::wink

What do I expect "exactly?" Terry, I'm not a military commander - I'm a friend asking for some help with a good cause - you just do your thing. If you can get the inerts out without killing them, then fine - my priority's stopping the ecological damage. That I'm going to do with or without you... & without you there's no way I can help the monkeys breathe underwater.'

Terry nods

Eel flinches,

'Wow Terry - you have been hanging around his Countship a lot, haven't you? You worry about what the inerts think if you like, I'm worried about the fish.'

Terry shrugs with a smile

"Actually I just met the guy...I worry about the fish too, about the world. I'm just seeking some kind of balance and we won't achieve it by killing a few baselines. We need to teach them. Killing them won't make them realize their fault, they'll just focus on the fact that novas killed baselines."

'Well, ' Eel begins, 'we have a general, but not a specific, location. That's why you both need to be able to breathe underwater & survive at high-pressures: we'll need to find the place once we're down there. It's most likely a highly automated operation, but there'll be some staff about to fix stuff that gets broken & direct the mining & stuff. I'm guessing they'll have some of those nice little mini-sub things too. The general area's highly volcanic - hence the rich mining - so pockets of heat, & pockets of unique life too. They haven't delivered any minerals to the surface yet, but I'd imagine they'll have a ship of some kind outfitted for transporting the stuff once it gets there.'

With a shrug she adds,

'No-one's seen the place yet - there's not much I can tell you without it all being pure speculation.'

Terry leans back in his chair as Eel briefs them, finger on his upper lip as he thinks. When she finishes he lets it sink in for a while as Glacier intervenes

Glacier nods speculatively.

"All right. What if I cut communications, then stay in the water with Eel while Pathfinder and Terry play crowd control, evacuate the humans, and themselves. Using telepathy, Pathfinder gives us the go-ahead, and we f*ck up the machines before leaving ourselves?"

Terry's voice rumbles softly towards John

"I think Pathfinder's a bit busy after having debriefed you on Bahrain, John. Besides, she can't swim down there...I'm sure if we tell the people on board "we're going to sink the place, is there anyone else on board we should know about?" They'll tell us."

The gravity controller's eyes shift towards Eel as he continues

"The ocean's a big place Eel, how general an idea are we talking about here?"

Terry shrugs

"I can swim..."

*I think*

"But I certainly can't swim as fast as you can Eel, and I doubt Glacier can either. Will you be tugging us along? Should you wear a harness or something? Perhaps we can somehow get information on this ship and get a better idea of where we should go.."

P.S. Pathfinder has debriefed him already, right?

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Mean Streets:

'As the bonded municipal defender of New York City I'm going to give you a chance to walk away from this, Link, before you get yourself into real trouble. I know that DeVries plays fast & loose with the law, but you're in my town now - hired muscle or not, if you get yourself involved in an illegal drugs deal, you'll have to deal with me.'

Link's focus broken he looks at the municipal defender with a confused look, "Is that what you really think I'm here on my own dime for? I can share with you the real reason that I'm here if you'd like, because it's got nothing to do with what you think I'm here for."

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Behind the shop...

As he turns to leave - his hi-tech cloak shimmering to conceal his image, the Templar replies,

'That's your choice - after an hour it won't matter anyway.'

The remaining visible Templars also begin to vanish as they activate their stealth technologies & start to leave.

His eyes continually scanning the area and doing his best to determine just how invisble the Templars are, the Ghost watches the retreating messenger in silence. When they're all gone he does the obvious thing and calls Ms Cable's cell phone while turning to the meeting inside. His voice leaves no room for debate as he addresses Marco and his potential business partner.

"I think we're done here for now."

Then his cold gaze falls on the latina.

"You're staying."

"Slither, go get Link. Now."

[To keep options open and not interrupt the flow too much I'm gonna make a few IF/THEN statements here...]

IF Link decides to join the party, Vinnie gives him a brief glance, followed by touching his finger to his temple. Then - presuming the telepath gets the message - he forms the words in his mind

*No snooping, you hear? But they might be able to tap my phone, and I don't want that. They've got Ms Cable. I don't know how bad this can get, but I want as many of the guys as possible on standby for my pickup in one hour. These f*ckers just messed with the wrong agency... Do it.*

With that he makes it clear that he really doesn't feel like sharing more, and turns his mind to other things.

"Slither? This ain't your fight, so I'm gonna ask you. Once. In or out?"

Presuming Ms Cable is unable to accept the call at the moment, Vinnie hangs up.

IF Slither is in, he tells the latina to take her to the Zanzibar to check the place out, then return here.

Once all that is done - and Marco hopefully has the sense to get the hell out - he heads back out in the yard, out of view of whatever people remain inside, and glances up at the roof. If he still senses the Stranger up there he says

"It's a lot easier for you to get down here than for me to get up there."

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As he turns to leave - his hi-tech cloak shimmering to conceal his image, the Templar replies,

'That's your choice - after an hour it won't matter anyway.'

The remaining visible Templars also begin to vanish as they activate their stealth technologies & start to leave.

Silently praying that Ghost doesn't start shooting, the masked vigilante is relieved when the Templars finally vanish without incident.

"It's a lot easier for you to get down here than for me to get up there."

Clearly visible standing atop the roof, The Stranger takes a moment to remove a small rectangular item from his belt. Quickly tapping fingers against it, he slips the object back into the pouch it came from, then steps forward and jumps easily to the ground, landing a few feet in front of Ghost.

He speaks in a low, gravelly voice. "I'll meet you there. I need to gather some things that should help."

He waits a moment to see if Ghost has any objections. If none, he exits via grapple, ascending quickly to the rooftops above and back to his lair to collect what he needs.

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Derek watches in rapt fascination, broken only by an involuntary shudder at the mention (and sight) of the catheter.

He frowns slightly:

"Dr Chen, I assume that when I shift into a different material form, the suit will change with me?

"And what would occur if I was to shift into the material the suit is constructed of?"

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His eyes continually scanning the area and doing his best to determine just how invisble the Templars are, the Ghost watches the retreating messenger in silence. When they're all gone he does the obvious thing and calls Ms Cable's cell phone while turning to the meeting inside. His voice leaves no room for debate as he addresses Marco and his potential business partner.

"I think we're done here for now."

Then his cold gaze falls on the latina.

"You're staying."

"Slither, go get Link. Now."

Slither nods.

I'm on it.

The slinky nova heads outside in search of Link, her eufiber switching to ninja black.

(OOC: Does she actually know where he is, or can someone give his position telepathically?)

Once she arrives at his location, she is stunned to find him face-to-face with the Gothic Knight.

Whoa.

She looks between the two of them nervously.

Uh...so, Link. There's a problem - we think there's been an incident. All hands on deck and what-not. ::unsure

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The Blackburn Hotel:

"But I certainly can't swim as fast as you can Eel, and I doubt Glacier can either. Will you be tugging us along? Should you wear a harness or something? Perhaps we can somehow get information on this ship and get a better idea of where we should go.."

Eel raises an eyebrow,

'A harness? Terry... you really are kinky...' ::sly

'... but no - we have a general location - we'll go there & take a look. I won't be giving out free rides... But then that's why you two are so handy to have about - I'm sure you can both handle yourselves okay underwater.'

With a shrug she adds,

'If you want to spend some more time planning, Terry, then feel free - I'm more of an action gal myself - open us a portal to the area & me & Glacier will take care of it.'

With that a holographic image appears in the air in front of the three Novas - a world map which then zooms in to an area off the coast of Japan.

'Thanks Synapse.' Eel says out loud, then folds her arms & fixes her gaze on Terry, waiting...

Street Dealing:

"Is that what you really think I'm here on my own dime for? I can share with you the real reason that I'm here if you'd like, because it's got nothing to do with what you think I'm here for."

The Gothic Knight doesn't take his eyes off of Link as he replies, a touch of anger quivering his menacing voice,

'Don't try to play me for a fool, mercenary. I know why you're here.'

At the Shop:

"I think we're done here for now."

Marco nods, then exits. The two wanna-be drugs-pushers quickly follow suit.

"You're staying."

The attractive Latina nods quietly & waits to see what's going to happen. Vinnie gets Ms Cable's voicemail.

"Slither, go get Link. Now."
I'm on it.

Outside...:

Link & The Gothic Knight are witness as Marco & the two student-types exit the shop, none of them noticing the two shadow-clad Novas as they go. The Gothic Knight's voice is deadly serious as he quietly says to Link,

'Tell me again how this isn't about mobsters & drug-dealing...'

Moments later the black-eufiber besuited Slither exits. As Marco & the students depart the scene, the shadows around Link & The Gothic Knight seem to melt away, & the municipal defender takes a step towards Slither...

Whoa... Uh...so, Link. There's a problem - we think there's been an incident. All hands on deck and what-not.

Staring down at the slinky female Nova The Gothic Knight's intimidating presence rolls over her as he asks,

'Drugs deal went bad did it?'

Getting Dressed:

"Dr Chen, I assume that when I shift into a different material form, the suit will change with me?"

The Asian beauty nods,

'That's the point, yes.'

"And what would occur if I was to shift into the material the suit is constructed of?"

'I doubt you could do that - it's tailored to your genetic profile anyway, it'd be like trying to shift into yourself.'

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Eel raises an eyebrow,

'A harness? Terry... you really are kinky...' 

'... but no - we have a general location - we'll go there & take a look. I won't be giving out free rides... But then that's why you two are so handy to have about - I'm sure you can both handle yourselves okay underwater.'

With a shrug she adds,

'If you want to spend some more time planning, Terry, then feel free - I'm more of an action gal myself - open us a portal to the area & me & Glacier will take care of it.'

With that a holographic image appears in the air in front of the three Novas - a world map which then zooms in to an area off the coast of Japan.

'Thanks Synapse.' Eel says out loud, then folds her arms & fixes her gaze on Terry, waiting...

Terry sighs

"I'm coming...but if you want me to help again, I want no deaths. Scare the bejezus out of 'em, make sur they don't call for back up and have fun destroying the place when it comes to that, but I want them to live and to know that we let them live."

While keeping his eyes on Eel Terry speaks to the room

"Synapse...if you notice any increase in activity from Nippontai or T2M or have any info on the station while we're down there, please tell Pathfinder. She can relay the info to me."

Terry stands and looks at Glacier

"Ready for a swim?"

A black portal tears in front of Terry, a pale speck in the middle. In an instant the speck grows as it is pulled towards the portal, bringing with it the sound of waves.

"Jump in..."

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"I'm coming...but if you want me to help again, I want no deaths. Scare the bejezus out of 'em, make sur they don't call for back up and have fun destroying the place when it comes to that, but I want them to live and to know that we let them live."

Glacier nods, relieved. He had been prepared to beg if necessary, but of course Terry saw that with Eel determined to go, his presence could only help, and not harm. Besides, he would rather pick a fight with Geryon than try to handle crowd control by himself on something like this..

Terry stands and looks at Glacier

"Ready for a swim?"

Glacier steps into the light of the portal, and gives an exaggerated grimace.

"Man, that water's gonna be really ****ing cold.. We should call the Polar Bear club and ask for tenure."

With a toothy grin, he steps through the portal.

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'Strip - you need to be naked.'

Emma lets out a little embarrassed giggle, then hides her face in Nate's shoulder... ::blush

Nate grins at her reaction, then puts his hand over her eyes.

"Will, please! There are ladies present!"

Then he adds in a loud whisper

"And you all know she likes to pretend she's too shy and fragile to be exposed to such sights!" ::sly

'Hold the suit up please.'

"Yes, ma'am!"

Nathan steps forward and picks the suit up, holding it by the armpits and studying it closely in a mix of fascination and repulsion.

"Who designed this thing, anyway? Giger?"

To the other Novas she adds,

'Everyone pay attention, you'll all need to know how to do this.'

Looking around the room as well as at the suiting process, Nathan turns to the doc and asks

"You said these things alter our 'Quantum signatures' and might change the way our powers appear. Will they also affect this 'taint' thing you talked about? Like, will I still be glowing, only in a different color?"

"And, er..."

He glances from Dr Chen to Emma and back.

"I couldn't help but notice how that suit has some unmistakably female properties... I thought this was supposed to be to allow us to operate against the Teragen without being recognized, and that they would only work for an active nova."

His inhuman eyes come to rest on Emma's face as he finishes:

"Is there something I should know about here?" ::huh

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Out in the Streets:

Moments later the black-eufiber besuited Slither exits. As Marco & the students depart the scene, the shadows around Link & The Gothic Knight seem to melt away, & the municipal defender takes a step towards Slither...

Staring down at the slinky female Nova The Gothic Knight's intimidating presence rolls over her as he asks,

'Drugs deal went bad did it?'

Slither's eyes go wide and she seems to shrink a bit under the wait of the Knight's gaze. ::blink

"Um, sorta...I mean, bad stuff happened, so yeah. There's, there's been a kidnapping."

She turns to look at Link, then back at the Knight.

"Can we go now, sir?" ::unsure

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A Knight's Tale:

"Um, sorta...I mean, bad stuff happened, so yeah. There's, there's been a kidnapping... Can we go now, sir?"

Folding his arms across his chest the Gothic Knight fixes Slither with his gaze,

'Tell me everything.' he demands, in no uncertain terms...

The Zanzibar:

... Fifty minutes later.

The Gothic Knight perched on the edge of the roof & cast his gaze across the seemingly deserted theatre building across the street. He didn't trust these people, of course - he'd been in this game too long for that & besides... he wasn't a certifiable lunatic. But several points of their story had similarities with investigations of his own which were too much of a coincidence to be ignored. So for now he waited, & watched, cloaked in shadows, to see how events were destined to play out. Unless he'd missed his guess, those Novas would be arriving soon...

Deep & Wet:

Eel undulated through the chill depths of the ocean, revelling in the freedom which being in her natural environment afforded her. She'd always had a hard time trying to get her head around why anyone would want to destory such beauty just to make a quick buck, even when she was... even before she was, she corrected herself - she'd long since abandoned trying to figure out the baseline mind. They made simple things needlessly complicated, & tried to pretend that the complex was simple. It was all too stupid for words, yet stupid could be all too dangerous too. That brought her thoughts full-circle to the abomination she'd located on the ocean floor - a sick, dead, thing of baseline greed invading the wondrous realm of oceanic life. It had taken some strength of will not to just destroy the place then & there, but she'd promised to play nice... or at least, nicer than usual... & knew she couldn't afford to alienate her new brothers - not when they both showed so much potential for growth. Besides, for a guy with cold powers, Glacier was hot ::sweetlove ...

Glacier's polar bear anima was easy to spot, as was the sudden drop in water temperature around him & the little chunks of ice forming & floating towards the surface high above. With a flick of her long tail Eel swam over, making a little extra effort to show off just how gracefully she moved in the oceanic medium. Even among the Teragen Eel knew that there were plenty of guys who would have prefered how she'd looked before her life began, but Glacier had proven able to see the beauty of her true form - she felt he deserved a little bit of a show now that she was home. Circling the bear form glow several times she finally pressed her body close to his, electric arcs trading with freezing chill, grasped his all-too-perfect face between her webbed fingers, & kissed him deeply. Exploring his tongue with her own Eel felt a tingle other than her usual electrical charge building within her, & realised that the hardening of her nipples was for reasons other than Glacier's chill ::blush ... Reluctantly she broke the kiss - time enough for such things later - & gestured for her lover to follow her...

Terry - Eel was starting to loath that name, wishing he'd choose a real one now he'd finally started to accept who he was - was a little harder to locate, but soon enough she spotted the light from the underwater lamp Synapse had supplied before they'd left the Blackburn. With Glacier in tow she approached the gravity manipulator... for a brief moment she toyed with the idea of kissing him as well - after his comments back at the hotel it'd be appropriate & kinda' funny - but then thought better of it. PathFinder would know, & she didn't want to upset her friend. Besides, unlike Glacier she didn't know for certain if Terry could take contact with her electric field or not. Best not to tempt fate (or telepaths...). Instead she decided to grab Terry's attention by hefting her not-inconsiderable cleavage in front of his face, before gesturing for him too to follow her - hey, she thought to herself, no reason not to give the guy something to think about... ::devil

With her two Terat confederates beside her Eel swam low, hugging the ocean floor, feeling the heat from the volcanic vents which dotted the area, & enjoying the sight of myriad unique lifeforms gathered about them. Cresting a ridge she came to a halt - as did any indication of life - as before them was revealed the low domed construction they'd come to destroy. The ocean churned in death-throes here - the thud, thud, thud of industrial machinery raping the Earth could be felt pounding through the water. Lights from the facility were dimmed by the debris the operation was producing, a dirty cloud of filth marking the progress of man. Rising from the apex of the factory-sized dome was an umbilical of cables, sheathed in metallic armour - the facility's link with the surface world. Turning to Glacier Eel pointed at the umbilical & made a cutting gesture across her throat. For Terry she offered a shrug & indicated the main facility - recalling their earlier conversation she waited for the gravity manipulator to make his move...

Learning to Walk:

Emma glanced at the featureless face reflected back at her in the mirror-shined wall of the training room. In truth the biosuit, now that she'd got it on, was comfortable... more than that, it felt like a natural part of her body - so much so that she kept finding herself trying to cover-up as if she were actually naked. The events of the last few hours had been so confusing, but it seemed she - as a Nova - could use the suit, even in her 'dormant' state. Still, if the others hadn't have tried theres' on first she felt she'd never have been able to overcome her squeamishness & don the - admittedly disgusting - 'uniform'. She did feel strong, & protected, & even 'graceful' if that was an appropriate word for such an alien-looking creature as she now appeared to be - but the testing hadn't yet really begun...

... To start with Emma had found breathing had been the hardest - she kept thinking about those little tendril things up her nose, even though she couldn't really feel them. Then there was the 'helmet' - with it on she could perceive everything perfectly, as if it wasn't even there. This, of course, meant that every time she tried to rub her eyes or scratch her nose she'd smack her biosuit-covered hand into the helmet - which was inevitably followed by a moment of panic until she managed to remind herself what was going on. Staying calm & relaxed was the key - Doctor Chen had said as much - but Emma had found it difficult. Eventually she'd started to get the hang of things, & moving about had been easy in comparison to those early difficulties. But now they'd started talking about testing & training, now they'd been placed into this strange cube of a room with walls, floor, & ceiling of mirrored metal.

'Alright,' Doctor Chen's voice was piped into the room, 'let's get started.'

For a moment a column of flickering light illuminated the middle of the room - Emma felt her heart start to race as she fought down the painful nightmare memories from her past which the beam threatened to drag to the surface once more - but then it was gone, leaving in its place a the figure of a hugely bulky man, disfigured by distortingly large muscles, even though his face - near buried into his over-sized shoulders - was as beautiful as that of an angel.

'Teragen Simulation One,' Doctor Chen announced, 'Geryon.'

With that the figure came to life, growling & charging towards Emma & the others...

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In the darkness of the ocean, Glacier's human face and body are all but invisible beneath the cloak of the Bear. But when Eel leans in to kiss him, their faces are briefly illuminated by a crackle of electricity that runs between their lips. The shock is a bit painful and numbing, but Glacier feels certain that his natural chill is no less of an alien sensation to Eel. Besides, for someone whose skin can turn away bullets, a little pain now and then can be a novel thrill...

The little group sets off. The oceanic abyss is too vast for words. While Eel somehow occupies herself with the coral reef and occasional big fish, Glacier is distracted by the unspeakably voluminous mass of water surrounding him on all sides. The man who had been John Walker reflects that if he were to accidentally dorm down, the pressure would crush him before he could even rectify his mistake.

They arrive at the undersea mining station. The bear-like shape of Glacier resembles some phantom sea turtle as he swims ably towards the electrical cable "lifeline" connecting the research station with the surface.

Say goodnight, Gracie.

A blue paw reaches out, and long black claws come to bear on the steel line...

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Deep & Wet:

Eel undulated through the chill depths of the ocean, revelling in the freedom which being in her natural environment afforded her. She'd always had a hard time trying to get her head around why anyone would want to destory such beauty just to make a quick buck, even when she was... even before she was, she corrected herself - she'd long since abandoned trying to figure out the baseline mind. They made simple things needlessly complicated, & tried to pretend that the complex was simple. It was all too stupid for words, yet stupid could be all too dangerous too. That brought her thoughts full-circle to the abomination she'd located on the ocean floor - a sick, dead, thing of baseline greed invading the wondrous realm of oceanic life. It had taken some strength of will not to just destroy the place then & there, but she'd promised to play nice... or at least, nicer than usual... & knew she couldn't afford to alienate her new brothers - not when they both showed so much potential for growth. Besides, for a guy with cold powers, Glacier was hot ::sweetlove ...

Glacier's polar bear anima was easy to spot, as was the sudden drop in water temperature around him & the little chunks of ice forming & floating towards the surface high above. With a flick of her long tail Eel swam over, making a little extra effort to show off just how gracefully she moved in the oceanic medium. Even among the Teragen Eel knew that there were plenty of guys who would have prefered how she'd looked before her life began, but Glacier had proven able to see the beauty of her true form - she felt he deserved a little bit of a show now that she was home. Circling the bear form glow several times she finally pressed her body close to his, electric arcs trading with freezing chill, grasped his all-too-perfect face between her webbed fingers, & kissed him deeply. Exploring his tongue with her own Eel felt a tingle other than her usual electrical charge building within her, & realised that the hardening of her nipples was for reasons other than Glacier's chill ::blush ... Reluctantly she broke the kiss - time enough for such things later - & gestured for her lover to follow her...

Terry - Eel was starting to loath that name, wishing he'd choose a real one now he'd finally started to accept who he was - was a little harder to locate, but soon enough she spotted the light from the underwater lamp Synapse had supplied before they'd left the Blackburn. With Glacier in tow she approached the gravity manipulator... for a brief moment she toyed with the idea of kissing him as well - after his comments back at the hotel it'd be appropriate & kinda' funny - but then thought better of it. PathFinder would know, & she didn't want to upset her friend. Besides, unlike Glacier she didn't know for certain if Terry could take contact with her electric field or not. Best not to tempt fate (or telepaths...). Instead she decided to grab Terry's attention by hefting her not-inconsiderable cleavage in front of his face, before gesturing for him too to follow her - hey, she thought to herself, no reason not to give the guy something to think about... ::devil

With her two Terat confederates beside her Eel swam low, hugging the ocean floor, feeling the heat from the volcanic vents which dotted the area, & enjoying the sight of myriad unique lifeforms gathered about them. Cresting a ridge she came to a halt - as did any indication of life - as before them was revealed the low domed construction they'd come to destroy. The ocean churned in death-throes here - the thud, thud, thud of industrial machinery raping the Earth could be felt pounding through the water. Lights from the facility were dimmed by the debris the operation was producing, a dirty cloud of filth marking the progress of man. Rising from the apex of the factory-sized dome was an umbilical of cables, sheathed in metallic armour - the facility's link with the surface world. Turning to Glacier Eel pointed at the umbilical & made a cutting gesture across her throat. For Terry she offered a shrug & indicated the main facility - recalling their earlier conversation she waited for the gravity manipulator to make his move...

Terry rolled his eyes at Eel's cleavage display and follows her. Like Glacier, Terry is blown away by the beauty of the ocean. The emptiness was nothing new, Terry had been in space more than once and for extended periods of time...However, unlike space, the ocean was alive. A living world with flying creatures, weird, beautiful and sometimes even a little scary.

Terry was shocked at the sight of the mining facility, as people often are when confronted with the harsh realities of industrialism. The nova nodded at Eel and looked on as Glacier approached the Cable. When Glacier was a stroke away from the cable, a darkened sphere appeared in front of Terry. A white speck in the middle quickly grew into what looked like a corridor. Terry stepped through.

OOC: Activate FF

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The Zanzibar:

... Fifty minutes later.

The Gothic Knight perched on the edge of the roof & cast his gaze across the seemingly deserted theatre building across the street. He didn't trust these people, of course - he'd been in this game too long for that & besides... he wasn't a certifiable lunatic. But several points of their story had similarities with investigations of his own which were too much of a coincidence to be ignored. So for now he waited, & watched, cloaked in shadows, to see how events were destined to play out. Unless he'd missed his guess, those Novas would be arriving soon...

And he was right, at least in the case of one. Gliding silently through the air on a tether, the Stranger's form appeared out of the darkness to alight on another rooftop nearby. Checking the time display in his helmet's HUD, he scanned the nearby area for Ghost, and any other lurkers that might be nearby.

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Learning to... fly?

No stranger to having alien substandes coat his body after a couple of months of eufiber wear, Nathan is a bit more comfortable with the whole body suit thing. The image of Dr Chen applying the catheter would be stuck on his mind for a while, though, and not in a good way. ::ohmy It hadn't exactly helped that he could see Emma looking from the corner of her eyes either... ::blush

Anyway, now he'd finally got it on it actually felt pretty good. He was a little bulkier, of course, but that didn't seem to hinder him any. So if only he could get over this feeling of being so exposed...

Shrugging his doubts aside Nathan rolled his shoulders and glanced briefly over at Emma. Despite the alien biosuit he could still recognize her moves and stance, and he had to stop himself from looking down his own body. He felt naked, but luckily he wasn't. After stretching a little, he did a few jumps and backflips, testing his own body control in the new suit.

"Feels pretty much the same as before, really..."

Nathan was about ready to fire up his force field and fly around a bit when Dr Chen's announcement came over the speakers and his attention was drawn to the beam of light and the hulking figure it left behind. He placed himself square between Emma and the charging exercise enemy, raising a biosuited hand towards the Geryon copy, building the familiar quantum energies and unleashing them through his hand.

"Let's see how this works, then..." he grins as the plasma bolt shoots through the air, smoldering lava-red and trailing faint traces of dark smoke instead of the argent, glaring white glow of his normal blasts.

[ooc: That is, if we're free to make up the changes ourselves...]

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The Zanzibar:

Like a spider in slow motion, Slither creeps from wall to wall, inching closer and closer to the old theater; she stays in the shadows and at least three stories above the ground, her skin and eufiber 'ninja suit' shifting to match brick and stone. Her eyes are focused on the street below, and her unnaturally keen ears strain to pick out Ghost's radio signal when it comes.

*If it comes; God, this is taking forever! I wonder what Mike's doing right now, other than looking seriously biteable. Great - now my leg is starting to cramp up...*

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A van near the Zanzibar

Body armor...? Check. Pistols? Check. Backups? Check.

The young elite mentally checked the items off his list as he always did before going into a live situation. The right equipment and intimate knowledge of it could save his life, and despite his age he'd already gotten used to risking his life on a regular basis. For the right price, of course.

Assault rifle? Check. Grenades? Check.

Smiling grimly as he ran his hands over the webbing under his coat, once more going over the good baker's dozen of various explosive devices strapped to his body, the nova hitman ran through his chances, wondering what to expect from enemies as well as ad hoc allies.

Kevlar gloves? Check. Bugs? Scramblers? Check.

The oldest grandson of Don Gino Genovese settled back in the driver's seat of his van, superhuman senses taking in every little detail of the old theatre down the road. He'd ported by as close as he dared a little earlier, pushing his senses to the limit to get as good an idea as possible about the interior and the opposition he'd face. The odds weren't good, specially not with the amount of teleporting he'd been forced to do the last hour to make it to the Zanzibar in time... He cursed himself for the wasted ones, not feeling at all in top shape. Hopefully he wouldn't need it, but if he did he had a few cards up his sleeve. And he had her...

The sacrificial lamb..?

Vinnie threw a glance in the rear view mirror, suppressing a small sigh as he looked at the teenage, demonic girl he'd taken under his wing. Dee, he'd called her. Stupid name. Stupid plan. Bloody stupid 'do the right thing' impulse. She belonged to the Dark Templars, and they wanted her back. She didn't deserve it. She didn't deserve living in a mercenary compound either. And she certainly didn't deserve being traded back into slavery to buy the freedom of a woman she didn't know. But whoever said life was fair..?

Check.

The Ghost turns to face his passenger and reaches a still un-gloved hand over to take hers. He looks into her eyes with as honest and trustworthy expression as he can muster, and speaks in a soft, calm voice.

"I told you all about this already, and I know you're a bright girl so I'm not going to repeat it. But I want you to know this: I'm not done with your old owner yet, and I will see you again. Capisce?"

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An Octopus's Garden:

Say goodnight, Gracie.

The thick hi-tech cable snaps easily under Glacier's potent claws, the end connected to the undersea facility snaking lazily downwards until it impacts across the top of the main structure's dome, whilst the severed end of the cable hanging down from above begins to slowy dance in the currents of the deep.

Eel grins at her lover's handiwork, blowing him a kiss ::wub , then glances back at Terry's shrinking warp to confirm that the gravity manipulator has entered the facility. Casting her eyes about, the aquatic Terat decides to begin the job at hand by targeting the automated modules furthest from the inhabited part of the structure: gesturing for Glacier to join in the fun she undulates gracefully down to one of the infernal machines... then starts to rip it apart with her bare hands...

... Terry steps through his warp into one of the curved corridors inside the undersea facility - moments later the lights go out & a series of loud 'clang!'s reverberate through the place as the severed end of the heavy cable strikes the facility. About two seconds later the emergency lights kick in, accompanied by the whoop of an alarm, & a man's overly-excited voice yelling across the public address system in Japanese...

'Report! All hands report! What's happened?'

Glancing about Terry notes signage stencilled on the walls in Japanese characters - including directions to: crew quarters, command centre, sick bay, & engineering. Amongst the other technical & corporate information marked on the walls he also notices a somewhat familiar corporate symbol: that of Master International, in this case, specifically, 'MIA' - Master International Automation...

Style & Substance:

"Let's see how this works, then..."

Although Nate's plasma bolt looks different, it appears to be as effective as ever - striking 'Geryon' clean in the chest it causes the simulation to explode into tiny fragments of light, which themselves soon fade into nothingness. As a bonus Nathan feels Emma pressing up close behind him, holding tight on to him - a sensation which, in the suits, feels just as if it were her nude flesh against his own...

In the control booth Doctor Chen thumbs the microphone switch,

'Good, Mister Wade,' her voice sounds in the testing room, 'that bolt registered quite differently from your usual manifestation. Try testing your other abilities.'

Tapping the speaker control off the Nova doctor checks some more readings, then turns to her employer,

'It looks promising, sir,' she begins, 'Blaze appears to be adapting to the biosuit quicker than the others... & vice-versa, naturally.'

'Naturally,' Masters nods sagely, although his tone is dry. Glancing at the antics of the Novas in the testing room he adds, almost absent mindedly, 'We shouldn't call him "Blaze" when he's in the suit though - we need to get everyone used to using different code-names: all the Nova-tech in the world isn't going to help if we get stupid & slip up on the little things, the basics.'

'Of course, sir,' Doctor Chen agrees. Once more thumbing the speaker system into life she again addresses those in the testing room,

'Start thinking about your new code names.'

Masters supresses a smile - Chen was always so... forward... he liked that about her. That & her legs, but he'd long ago learnt to moderate his appreciation of the female form so that it was a tool in his arsenal, rather than just a vice he couldn't kick - even a Nova genius like Chen had been surprised that the 'old man' was perfectly capable of teacher her a few tricks... ::devil ::sly Turning his attention once more to the Novas Masters contemplates Emma - one of the most powerful forces on the planet concealed within the form of a timid young thing like that. He liked her too... but then, another lesson he'd long sinced learned was that just because you liked someone, it didn't mean you could afford to not use them...

'Sir!'

The control room door bursts open as an out-of-breath technician runs in, waving a piece of paper. Snatching the document from his hand Masters quickly scans over it, a frown forming on his brow. Stepping forward he flips the switch for the speakers himself,

'Nate,' he announces, 'get up here - we've got an emergency.'

'Sir!' Chen's protest can be heard in the room below, 'He's not ready! We've barely begun...'

Masters cuts her off with a stern look,

'Get up here Nate,' he repeats, firmly, 'you're going to Japan.'

Dancing with Demons:

Shadow-clad on a rooftop The Stranger's optical enhancements zero-in quickly to the van which pulls quietly to a halt near the Zanzibar - that was The Ghost alright - on time &, it appeared, tooled-up for a war. For a moment it appears that the Elite is talking to someone in the back of the van - but the angle's all wrong & The Stranger can't make out who it is...

Living up to her name Slither hugs a wall nearby, spotting Vinnie's van as it approaches. The mobster had been busy since they'd last spoken, it seemed - too busy to fill her in on his plans... Hopefully he'd either take a moment to inform her of whatever tactical masterpiece he'd devised... or she'd be able to remain hidden if everything went South... She hoped that he'd at least recalled that she said she'd be there - & that she was awaiting his instructions...

"I told you all about this already, and I know you're a bright girl so I'm not going to repeat it. But I want you to know this: I'm not done with your old owner yet, and I will see you again. Capisce?"

Black-horned head bowed 'Dee' dares to steal a glance with her glowing all-green eyes up through her long lashes at the man she'd made plain she considered her 'Master' - a gesture which Vinnie notes as considerable progress, all things considered. Lowering her eyes once more the mute girl answers in her own way - pressing her lips to her Master's hand, & flicking her long forked tongue sensuously across his skin. Although the studded collar around her neck smacks of her servitude, Vinnie can't help but think that the combat trousers, boots, & 'DeVries' T-shirt she's still wearing make the surgically & chemically altered teenage girl look kind of cute... which hardly helps matters...

Turning his attention back to the matter at hand The Ghost recalls what he's learnt of the 'battleground': first & foremost is the overpowering sense of fear radiating from the old abandoned theatre. He'd encountered the sub-sonic 'phobia generating' technology once before & this time had come prepared - with DVNTS-issue ear-pieces set to filter such effects, enough sets for himself & his allies... if they'd even turned up...

Second was the surveilance gear in the building: top of the line bleeding-edge technology, to be sure, but it had all appeared to be portable - the Dark Templars seemed to like to stay on the move. So, good as it was, the detection equipment had blind spots & weaknesses. He wasn't The Major, but Vinnie felt sure he'd managed to assemble the right gear & the right path of entry so that someone stealthy... Nova stealthy... should be able to get into the building undetected. Doing anything constructive once inside would, inevitably, trigger all sorts of alarms, but hopefully by that point such things would be moot.

Then, of course, there were The Templars themselves. Counting exact numbers had been infuriatingly difficult - even using his 'visions' - as they appeared & disappeared seemingly at random. A good dozen or so of the armoured targets, at least - probably more, & likely armed with all that nasty Templar weaponry too.

Of Miss Cable he'd been unable to get a clear vision... if he had, then the whole thing would already have been over. He had a sense that she was in the building, but something... or someone... was clouding her presence from him...

... & that was the really worrying part. Either the Templars had technology beyond even what Vinnie had already seen or they had one or more Novas in there - & if there was one thing you could never fully prepare for, it was unknown Novas.

The final few seconds till the deadline tick by... it's now or never...

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Glad to see that Ghost had finally shown up, The Stranger rises from his perch and quickly moves to kneel above the mercenary's position. Whistling softly to get the other nova's attention, he leaps down from the rooftop to stand next to Ghost. "Ready when you are."

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... Terry steps through his warp into one of the curved corridors inside the undersea facility - moments later the lights go out & a series of loud 'clang!'s reverberate through the place as the severed end of the heavy cable strikes the facility. About two seconds later the emergency lights kick in, accompanied by the whoop of an alarm, & a man's overly-excited voice yelling across the public address system in Japanese...

'Report! All hands report! What's happened?'

Glancing about Terry notes signage stencilled on the walls in Japanese characters - including directions to: crew quarters, command centre, sick bay, & engineering. Amongst the other technical & corporate information marked on the walls he also notices a somewhat familiar corporate symbol: that of Master International, in this case, specifically, 'MIA' - Master International Automation...

Terry smirked at the logo. When Natalia was kidnapped, they sent the team to Ibiza by private jet of all things. It wasn't until Terry showed up that the team moved through evolved means of transportation...

Still...it wouldn't hurt to hurry. The old man was resourceful..

The nova's hair started floating just as it had been outside the structure and Terry zips towards engineering.

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Style & Substance:

Although Nate's plasma bolt looks different, it appears to be as effective as ever - striking 'Geryon' clean in the chest it causes the simulation to explode into tiny fragments of light, which themselves soon fade into nothingness. As a bonus Nathan feels Emma pressing up close behind him, holding tight on to him - a sensation which, in the suits, feels just as if it were her nude flesh against his own...

Nathan raises a smoldering hand in front of his face, studying the smoke drifting from his fingers. His head is cocked a little to the side as in puzzlement at the change. Suddenly he tenses up as he feels Emma's hand on his hip, the contact a little too sudden and intimate, not to mention public... ::blush

'Good, Mister Wade,' her voice sounds in the testing room, 'that bolt registered quite differently from your usual manifestation. Try testing your other abilities.'

"Right..." Nathan mutters under his breath, activating his forcefield as he steps away from Emma and then rises off the floor, arms spread a little to his sides. He glances at her and smiles - a gesture that's completely lost through the face mask - then drifts weightlessly in the air a few steps from her, thankful that work can at least distract him a little. As his force field shimmers into view, it's giving off the same red, smoldering glow as his plasma, and faint lines of dark, glowing lava-red shine faintly on his second skin, giving the impression of veins and arteries.

"Wow... This is kinda cool..." He whistles, turning and twisting to get a good look at himself.

'Start thinking about your new code names.'

"Crap.. Another one..? I had a hard enough time coming up with Blaze... Any suggestions, Emma..? Not Lavaman or anything lame like that, but maybe..."

'Nate,' [Masters] announces, 'get up here - we've got an emergency.'

'Sir!' Chen's protest can be heard in the room below, 'He's not ready! We've barely begun...'

Masters cuts her off with a stern look,

'Get up here Nate,' he repeats, firmly, 'you're going to Japan.'

Hearing the urgency in his boss's voice as he cuts his train of thought off, Nathan instantly knows he means business. He turns briefly to Emma and touches her shoulder as he flies past, cursing his lack of facial expression in this suit. Then he flies up to the control room, hurrying front and center.

*Hang on...* he suddenly thinks to himself on the way. *Weren't these suits supposed to be telepathic or something..? Emma.. you there...?*

Half not expecting any answer he lands in front of his boss and throws him a flippant salute.

"Japan, sir..?"

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Stepping in through the portal behind Terry, Glacier shakes himself dry like a massive, icy dog. Little shards of ice spray from his form to shatter on the walls of the facility.

"Masters Incorporated again, huh Terry? Man, what doesn't he own?"

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