Thursday, 30 April 2015

Aberrant - Along Came Terragen (Updated)

Chrissie was curled up watching a film with Steve and Holly; the other side of the world, Adam was doing something similar with Sam and Nicky. The broadcast was interrupted - all TV channels, all internet traffic - by a fair-skinned man with short, light-coppery hair. He spoke eloquently about the ways novas were beyond humanity and should be governed by their own kind and their own rules - those nova prepared to settle for less, he implied, were sheep. The tone upset Chrissie, made her fear it would lead to trouble from the angrier and more unstable novas and backlash from baselines - she was particularly concerned for her human friends, who would be as caught in the middle as she was, but without the protection of quantum powers. The mystery red-head announced 'TerrraGen' as a new group of novas. 

Steve wished Chrissie luck as she flew to the Hub. Adam, meanwhile, agreed to stay with a concerned Sam - as long as Chrissie kept hi updated.

The team - sans Rachel, still on sabbatical, and Adam - gathered in the briefing room, along with Jen and Alastair. There were none of the usual jokes and pranks, and Chrissie could see the muscle tension in members of her team was a tight as her own, although on the surface all was calm. Sadiq was called in and confirmed Chrissie's suspicion that the nova on screen looked the same as the nova found in the memories Antaeus uncovered from the mind of the space engineer.

It was agreed that, for now, the best thing for members of the Initiative to do was stay quiet and unobserved - continue humanitarian efforts, but make no public declarations. Although frustrated, Chrissie could see the sense in that: they didn't know all the existing facts and couldn't see what the fallout would be. Best to stay quiet and be ready to act if needed.

After, Chrissie sought out her brother: she wanted back-up to visit her parents, whom she'd avoided since returning Pete to them. She felt this was no longer an option. They drove so he could borrow her car and still get back if she had to leave early. Pete's efforts to cheer Chrissie up ended as they climbed the steps. Their mother opened the door and greeted Pete cheerfully.

"Chrissie's here too."
"Where?"
"Right here. Right next to me."
"I don't see anyone. Do come in, Petie."
"Not until you say hi to Chrissie."
"It's alright, Pete, it doesn't matter," although it hurt more deeply than she'd known her parents still could.
"Who's 'Chrissie'"
"Don't do this, Mum. Your daughter" 
"I don't have a daughter."
"Yes you do, she's right here."
Chrissie couldn't hold her tongue any longer: "You should know, you were there."
And finally, finally, their mother turned to her and cut Chrissie's heart with seven syllables. "Not that I'd ever admit".

Chrissie regained herself and turned to leave. Despite her assurances that she was ok and he ought to stay, Pete insisted on leaving with her so they drove back in a near silence: Chrissie did not want him to see how angry she was. She dropped him back then sent the car on to its space at the Hub as she flew up, up and up. Once far enough above flight paths, she sped as fast as she could go - faster than she thought she could - to reach Adam. Her landing on their helipad was ungainly, but had the advantage of alerting the adults so that Sam met her with a sympathetic look and a strong cup of coffee, whilst Adam led her to their sound-proofed theatre so she could scream the injustice of it to him. 

Calm again, she convinced Adam (sounding a little lost in his new role as husband and father) to come back with her for a bit: Pax was due to be giving a press conference that Chrissie very much wanted Dave to sneak them into. Sam was pleased at the prospect of having him out of her hair for a few hours: there's only so many times you can wake up to discover your whole house redecorated before you start to crave stability in your scenery. 

Dave agreed to take them along as trainees/assistants once they'd reassured him they were only going to observe, not cause trouble. Chrissie was careful to hide her distinctive hair under a peaked cap and wore clothes as close in style to the other journalists and associated press-type people, but on the way in another reporter spotted her and started demanding her view on Terragen. She refused to comment and moved on quickly.

Pax's speech was brief and to the point: that he and Team Tomorrow did not agree with Terragen and that mankind - nova and baseline - needed to work together. The crowd roared for me, but he was done. Mic drop, peace out, gone. (And for a treacherous moment, Chrissie wondered if she should have followed up on the interest he'd shown her. But then, Steve was not an ordinary baseline.)

Back at the Hub, Chrissie invited Adam, Alastair and Jen to dinner and thanked her lucky stars that Steve would be happy to host at no notice, he being a much better cook than she.

And it was a lovely meal, until Steve stood to get dessert and a crashing noise familiar to the novas echoed in the distance. Before the sirens and car alarms had time to begin, Alastair had teleported the baselines to safety and returned to take Chrissie and Adam to the source.

The warehouses lining the street had been destroyed. Silhouettes of several people could be seen: no remains, just scorched patterns and an absence of the pin-prick holes that covered the ground and all surfaces. The epicentre of what seemed to have been an explosion of needles was pretty clear: slivers of living metal were returning to a man-shape ahead. As the figure coalesced, they saw this was more of a bipedal, metallic, man-sized lizard than a normal human; something that seemed more alien than nova.

He turned, and spoke, and his voice was sibilant.

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