Friday, 27 February 2015

Aberrant - Secret Island Bases

Back to Aberrant and of course I did miss some important things. I suppose the first was that after Pete was taken (and Chrissie's brother has to be Pete ever since I realised I'd accidentally named him after my teddy bear) or possibly after he was 'killed' I may have microchipped all my friends without telling them (in case they were kidnapped by a telepathic nova)... It didn't work too well: when Sam was kidnapped, the microchip was returned to a tray in the main lab in the Hub.

Most of what I missed, though, was in that in the discussions with Remy, he mentioned a similar occurrance of superpowered people that involved the Aeon Society and Dr Primorus, and two in particular (code-named Adam and Eve) who seemed to be utterly unlimited in their power. The suspicion at this point was that the explosion of the Galatea had to do with converting the world into novas, or something, in a manner akin to Dr Primorus's previous experiments.

It also came up about how Adam found the warehouse with the nova who destroyed Vienna - the helpful cab driver who'd driven Antaeus there previously... Pax pointed out that Antaeus never used cabs (something we'd wondered about but trusted the cabbie on because it didn't seem impossible - and then both forgotten in the aftermath) so it seemed more likely the cabbie was a plant deliberately leading us to the nova. Adam immediately started blaming himself again, believing his visit had triggered the destruction of Vienna. Poor Adam.

We went our separate ways: Remy staying on his ship; most of our team back to the Hub; Pax to Project Utopia, where he was to act as our informer (brave man). Adam and I went to see Montgomery, needing to get him to call off his Interpol search for Remy.

Montgomery knew the cabbie (Adam having done a rough sketch that could probably find a place in the Louvre or somewhere): Sylvester Harris (not to be confused with Silvester Malliard, Noleski's Court Magister, friend and trusted advisor and about the closest thing Svetlana has to a father-figure), a former MI5 agent who was wanted for (amongst other things) selling nuclear weapons.

It was 23rd November 2002 that we confronted Remy and joined sides (still a few unaswered questions: why did he not believe Jen when (assuming) she told him we weren't bad guys? Why did he have a deadman's switch for the C4 he insists he didn't plant? - the woman he rescued was part of his team infiltrating the actual bad guys). He'd destroyed Benedict's book of the future at Jen's request.

So into the next session.

 5th December when Remy contacted Adam and I to let us know he'd found Harris. We were to fly to the Cook Islands and he'd come meet us. From our hotel room - huts over the sea - we swam to another island. Satellite pictures had revealed it to be a natural fortress that had been taken over and several nuclear missile silos could been seen - well-hidden, but visible from just the right angle. Harris was believed to be there, or at least to have been there. Swam without powers: Remy warned us that excessive use may draw attention.

We bugged the comms base and snuck into each silo base, filling them with C4 such that when we blew the charges they would be filled with salt water. The soldiers who filled the place - speaking Russian and some coded Russian I couldn't understand - were stronger, faster, tougher than normal humans, yet there was no evidence of any node or quantum control amongst them.

It took a couple of days for us to finish our island sabotage. We headed to the main base. First things first, we needed to disable the planes so Harris (assuming he was there) wouldn't be able to escape: the best solution, it seemed to me, would be to remove the bolts that held the wheels in place carefully enough that you wouldn't notice until you went to use them...

The centre of this camp was a large house. We'd stolen various ident cards by this point, but were still expecting trouble as we entered. Not getting any was my first sign there was real danger in this house; Adam was a little distracted by the expensive artwork. I still couldn't sense any other novas around, which felt suspicious somehow. It probably wouldn't have bothered me if the soldiers weren't so capable, but as it was I couldn't help worrying there was a very powerful nova around.

I was right, of course. We went upstairs into a large room with a James-Bond style chair. You know the one. The one where the bad guy spins around with the cat...

This guy at least apologised for not having a cat - it was around somewhere, he said (it was, a fluffy black persian whose collar proclaimed it to be 'Mr Tiddles'. The guy introduced himself as Charles. He was less upset by the destruction of his nukes than we'd expected, possibly more insulted by our trespass. Claimed he needed the nukes as protection against the world's governments: they were too stupid to realise how outmatched they were, how much more powerful novas were. He needed leverage.

It didn't sit well with me. He was clearly very, very intelligent but his disdain for humanity was dripping.

He acknowledged Harris had worked for him - seemed he wanted what was happening in Vienna to be noticed (confirmation that it wasn't Adam's fault: hopefully he'll feel better about the situation now) so that humanity would understand its time was done...

I think he underestimates the power of humanity. Nova Sapiens may be more capable, but that doesn't mean humans will die out. We came from them, and they will grow into something else, same as our common ancestor with chimps and bonobos.

He explained his people had been given a drug that gave them their speed and strength and capability - nova-like abilities at a high cost: the best most of them could hope for was around 5 or 10 years of life. They were aware of the risks and their families were compensated, but it still feels strange (I wouldn't give up my power without a fight, so maybe I understand a little - but it's such a high price). He said he'd tried transplanting nodes but that had failed... Said he'd only needed the one node, had been able to create artifically from that. He didn't elaborate on where that node had come from and I didn't press the issue (but the disappearing quantum signature on Adam's baby flashed through my mind - can a node be extracted without killing the person?). He had some interesting ideason the nature of nova, human and quantum; ideas that certainly matched up with what I knew of Alastair. I asked whether he knew of any second-gen novas as he was describing and he claimed not to. An uneasy relief: keeping Alastair secret - at least for now - feels important. But 'Charles' was not necessarily being honest with me.

He gave us Harris's location and let us go. Harris duly arrested and handed over to Montgomery. (Arrested?.. I flew through the window of his hotel in Utah and flew him back to London. the exhileration of that cleared some of the stress 'Charles' had left in my head.)

I think what unsettled me most was Charles's passing comment, sending his regards to Mr Childs. Mark. I keep thinking of the file Montgomery gave me, with the warning that once I'd read it I couldn't turn back. It's been sitting in my drawer in Benedict's lab - the securest place I could think of - since. I was going to give Mark the benefit of the doubt and only read it if he gave me reason to, but maybe I should know the truth.I can't protect my team if I don't know them.

Christmas passed uneventfully for me. New Year was more fun - Bill opened up the Styx again - complete with ball pit so parents could come. Janet brought her little Trinity (who's not much younger than Alastair, which seels strange). Steve brought Holly along and Alastair and Jen were there - it was nice to be able to introduce Jen to the man who'd helped look after Alastair while she was away. I think Alastair was a little put out that his foster-sister was more interested in using the balls to teach science to the very little ones there than playing with him. Holly seems to bring out in him a child-like attitude in him that's reassuring in a strange way. I suppose it gives him a humanity.

Most of our team were there, which was great. Loads of my human friends I've not seen in ages. Bill's not been right since Michelle ran out of here when he tried proposing to her - god, must be 2 years ago now... But he's a bit better. Starting, maybe, to get back to himself.

Adam showed up with Sam - now very pregnant - and Pax. Think Steve was impressed to see him. Adam's a good man but very popular - he tried to keep Sam included, but with so many people demanding his attention it wasn't easy so I brought her over to hang out with Janet and other people who were already parents for their support. Adam and Rachel got themselves involved in a drinking contest, which worried me - I've seen her look at him - but they're adults and need to be trusted.

I walked home with Steve and Holly. She'll be 13 this year. Part of me wonders if I should just check her, see if she might erupt. There's some evidence puberty is a popular time for eruption and it's the sort of thing I think I'd rather be forewarned on. But I shan't without Steve's or her permission.

He invited me for a nightcap. I was relieved and frustrated when he didn't take it further.

...

The next couple of months went by peacefully enough, then on 5th March (with Adam cursing because it meant I won the sweepstake), Nicky Jane Marcia Roberta Jean Rachel Stephanie Christina Mason was born. Sam's a really good sport for letting us get everyone's name in and I think Adam was too awed by his daughter to notice.

This would be Peter Bear, whose name I accidentally stole for Chrissie's brother... I've had him since my little sister was born!

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