Friday 29 May 2015

Aberrant - Blood Red Carpet

I gave up, for now, trying to write to my parents. Something Alastair had said kept coming back to me, that novas aren't human. That we become obssessed, and that that obssession could become dangerous. By being aware of our oddities, we have the best chance to stay in control - to stay human-like. Well, I can recognise in myself a growing need for information - and a growing need to keep that information secret, exclusive to my close circle at the heart of the Initiative. I feel a little uneasy at stealing that algorithm, for all the good it will bring to us. I'm anxious about how this will affect me. Christ, I put tracking devices in all my non-nova friends just in case they get kidnapped, and didn't tell them in case the kidnapper could read minds. It seemed perfectly rational at the time, but now... now I feel a little uneasy. I drowned myself in science.

Holly was very excited about Adam's premiere - he pointed out we would be entering via the red carpet so she, Stef and I went dress shopping. Steve decided to stay with Alastair, and I was surprised how well he kept up. I assume Alastair dumbed himself down, but for a baseline Steve is smart. Really smart. And handsome. He's incredible.

... I think I'm getting used to being in love.

Alastair teleported us over to the New York Wharldorf Hotel, where we joined Adam and family (and entourage...). Cesar, Adam's father, was there with his twin brother's daughter, Isabella - adopted and raised by Cesar and to Adam a sister, because her father is a cruel man. She's a few years younger than Holly.

Another unexpected attendee was Jen - Jen as Jennifer St John, wife of Sir (Dr) Benedict St John and CEO of St John Enterprises, coming to the premiere with her 'family' in their roles as VIPs. It always feels a little strange to see her out formally, especially since Vienna and Benedict's ... death. So there she was, sitting nearby with her strange substitute family. The Benedict look-alike is remarkable - you'd need nova senses and to have known our Benedict really well to realise this wasn't him. And the kid playing Alastair has proved to be a good choice - he looks a lot like you'd imagine if you didn't know. Oh, but it was strange and sad to watch Alastair greet his mother as though they were strangers.

We prepared en masse and made our way to the fleet of limos and up the red carpet.

Adam had a whale of a time, signing autographs and taking selfies. At one point, the crowd burst forth and mobbed him - the security guards soon had it under control, and no one was hurt, but his watch did go missing. Steve enjoyed it too, fooling many people into thinking he was a famous film star. The rest of us took it a little more carefully; shyly, maybe.

And then.

Oh god, and then.

Just as we were getting to the door, there was a small noise. I thought it was a car backfiring at first, with the glitz and the glamour around us.


Turned and saw a group of 25 people clearing a path towards the carpet, one lowering a gun. The leader pushed his way onto the carpet and time seemed to slow as he opened his jacket, screamed "No more novas" and triggered the explosive vest. In the ensuing, confusing split-seconds, Adam and I tried to push people to safety and I saw Jen hold 'Benedict''s shoulder as a forcefield appeared to erupt from him. I barely had time to register how much she'd been keeping from me as I got myself and others into its safety. As I glanced back to see whom I'd missed, I realised Adam was among them. He's not as tough as me and as the blood and concussion and shrapnel flew I didn't think he could possibly survive. I don't think he would have, if he hadn't been shielding Isabella. I was screaming with the effort it took him to save himself in order to save his sister.

The adoring crowd was gone, a red mist fringed by a screaming mass in its place.
Adam slumped to a bloody mess but I could see the damage knitting. A quick glance reassured me the others were ok - Jen and Alastair had this, and Cesar was running for Isabella - so I raced to the sound of gunfire: the remaining 24 had coralled those trying to escape and were gunning them down. They'd made their anti-nova sentiment felt, which reinforced my desire not to hurt them: I didn't want to give them further cause to hate. They were split, 12-a-side, so I ran along, grabbing and throwing the machine guns faster than they could react. As I neared the last of the first group, I saw a limo flying past to crash into 6 on the other side - Adam, I hoped. Not impressed he was killing the bad guys, but glad he was back on his feet and always good to know he has my back. Felt a couple of handgun bullets ping off my back and glanced round to see Adam had grabbed another limo and was using it as a club to take out the re-armed guys behind me. I swung round to the next group, grabbed their weapons and flung them away, then Adam was there. I could see he could deal with the few left, so I turned my attention to the wounded. The few gunmen who'd survived shot themselves and each other as Adam closed on them, and I felt less bad for the damage he'd inflicted.

As I took charge and arranged the less wounded to help me with the more wounded, Alastair arrived with Jean. He rested his hand on Jean's shoulder briefly - I could feel the flow of quantum, opened my eyes again to see what was happening. A white glow of quantum was bubbling over Jean, trickling along Alastair's arm and soaking into him. I nodded - I've seen him do something similar before, borrowing Jean's healing powers to help out. Jean staggered slightly but was soon following my lead as we did what we could. I quickly realised I could use my power over fire to cauterise the most desperate cases - it worked well, although one man will have a handprint scar over the bullet hole for the rest of his life. At least he survived.

Alastair, meanwhile, was stood in the middle, right arm stretched out and that white glow was flowing from him, flowing out and hovering above the wounded beside him for several metres. It slowly settled over them and I saw their wounds knit as though Jean was knelt beside each... The effort was tiring for Alastair and he left as the ambulances arrived. Adam arranged them to maximum affect and I was relieved that the doctors and paramedics were prepared to take my instructions. It was a worse situation than any I've seen before, but as a human, this was the sort of worst case scenario I ws trained for, the kind of pressure I thrived under, and I knew what I was doing.

With the professionals there, Adam realised there was little more that he could do and was keen to reassure himself that his family were ok. I let him go with pleasure, knowing they'd be worried about him too. Jean and I returned to our triage and healing duties, but I could see he was tiring - his quantum white glow was fading and stuttering until he was too exhausted for even mundane doctoring and I sent him back too. At this point, I had enough respite to check my phone to find a reassuring message from Alastair that he'd taken everyone back to the hotel and that Holly and Steve were safe.

Police came and waited for a convenient moment to take my statement. A bit of cameradery and chatter convinced them to keep me posted.

I kept working until the last patient was taken away to a hospital, then sped back to the hotel. The EU-like fibre Benedict had created for me cleaned the blood and grime from me as I worked so I didn't feel the need for a hot shower that would normally hit me after a shift like this, but I did want a strong, black coffee and the receptionist was kind enough to oblige. The TV behind her showed the carnage and I was grateful to her for realising that it had affected me.

Adam knew I was close and told me everyone had piled into his suite. They'd grabbed all the pillows, cushions and blankets they could find and made a fantastic flump-pile in the middle of the room. The TV was on, but turned down low enough only those of us with nova-sharp hearing could hear. There was food and laughter of recovering adults. Isabella, I noticed, remained still and quiet, although Adam was looking after her, and Nicky was delightfully oblivious. Hard to remember it's only a week since she turned 2. Holly was also badly shaken, but trying to hide it. I squirmed my way through the pile to her, put an arm round her and pulled her close. Steve bundled up the otherside and stroked my hair. He seemed remarkably calm, coping better than anyone in the room.

And suddenly it hit me: we'd moved in together. We owned a house together in Cambridge and we were living together. I thought I hid my shock, but he must have felt me tense, because he chuckled, stroked my hair again and knew what I was thinking - reassured me it would be ok. I relaxed - made myself relax - but was still on edge. The whole evening had me on edge. 

He left the room to phone his parents and reassure them he and Holly were ok. I've still not met them, so tried listening out for clues as to what they were like, but heard nothing, which surprised me. I quickly text my friends and family - even my dad, who replied to say he was glad I was ok. The only person I didn't hear back from was Bill; I did my best not to worry about him. The time of it, he was probably conked out for the few hours he got between closing the Styx and opening the Skiff. But I haven't stopped worrying about him since his girlfriend walked out. Holly snuggled in closer.

I didn't say anything  significant to Jen, but caught her eye and she nodded, mouthed 'tomorrow'. I don't want her to think I'm angry with her - I've no doubt she has very good reasons for not telling even I about her powers - but I'd be lying if I didn't say I was a little hurt.

And that's how we passed the evening. The humans went to bed as they grew tired - the younger ones being carried, sound asleep - and we joined them briefly, but neither Adam nor I slept well. We met early in the hotel lounge to watch the breakfast news with other unsleeping guests. As anticipated, the attack was a major story, and someone had come forward to claim responsibility, a notorious group who hated novas and particularly the nova influence on media. Novas inevitably dominate cinema and the charts, but these want to bring baselines back to the fore. Hideous in its irony, then, that it was Adam's film highlighting this issue that they chose to desecrate.

There was an almost impercetible shift and Alastair was beside us. We would be holding a press conference that evening: it was time, he said, for us to come out of the shadows.

The world shifts again.


  1. Wow, the humanity in these posts and games is brilliant. I knew I was in for a treat when I read "Christ, I put tracking devices in all my non-nova friends just in case they get kidnapped, and didn't tell them in case the kidnapper could read minds. It seemed perfectly rational at the time, but now... now I feel a little uneasy. I drowned myself in science."

    1. I'll be honest, I was very pleased with that. I was completely inhabiting that aspect of Chrissie - her recent doubt - as I wrote it and it felt good. I'm really enjoying having a game that lets me develop the character within the game as well as within my head - it's a very social/interactive game, with a huge focus on character and it's very refreshing for me.