Friday 11 March 2016

Aberrant - Chasing Icicles

Been a bit remiss in getting back up to date with Aberrant. If you missed the last installment it's here, or you can see the full contents page above.

Beside the dizziness and headaches, the closest thing we had to a lead was a scrap of what looked like it might have been Steve's car drawn from other minds. It appeared to be driving randomly, following no discernable pattern. Alastair, exhausted, took Holly and Nicky to his mother's while I contacted Stef to trace Steve using the tracking chip I'd inserted against kidnapping, only to discover both his and Holly's chips were in a tray in the Hub. All other chips were where expected, the only oddity that Adam's was surrounded by some kind of phone and internet dead zone - and nowhere near Sam. He was meant to still be having a pleasant day with his wife, but he hadn't called for help so I relied on it being a coincidence or at least nothing he couldn't handle: we sent Mark to transport Sam to Jen's and wait for Jean and Robert to arrive before returning to his own mission.

I continued to quiz Stef. I wanted background checks on Steve and Holly, only to be told this was something already carried out. They'd found nothing. It was as if Steve and Holly didn't exist until they moved into the flat below mine.

Since becoming a nova, I've rarely felt unsettled, but this was beginning to push me this way. Not only unsettled, I also had the strongest sense I'd been lied to by Steve. I did my best to keep the feeling of betrayal from taking over before I found him, but I could feel my anger threading through my concern.

Stef confirmed Adam had moved from the dead zone to a spot in the Mojave desert as I continued to follow the car on its strange, looping journey. Adam didn't answer my hail, so I contacted Pax to let him know there may be a situation. Off-duty for Team Tomorrow, he swiftly offered to join me and - a sign of my unease - I equally quickly accepted. Pax reached me shortly after the car had stopped and I'd seen Steve get out, but following him around Cambridge - a town he'd come to know well - was difficult. We lost him and it took even Stef, with her CCTV connection, some time to find him. She eventually sent me some footage of Steve standing at the bank of the Cam. I could see him mouth something, "That should do it. Wasting enough time.", before the camera fizzled out. It was only down for a few seconds and he was gone when the feed returned.

Pax and I reached the area as an inexplicable coolness was fading. Inexplicable? No; more evidence of novas. It was cold like this in Holly's room earlier, when Steve left. That sense of betrayal knotted tighter, cut deeper. I'd promised Holly to make sure he was safe, and clung to that promise to quench my anger. I think I managed to hide it, but it absorbed me enough it was Pax who noticed the cloud cover, when the forecast was for clear skies (most flying novas pay close attention to this). As we flew up, we discovered the coolness marked a path to the clouds.

I commented to Pax that we must be facing a weather controller and was surprised to learn he hasn't come across this as a nova ability. I felt guilty as I lied to him, pretending I'd assumed this power existed rather than having first hand knowledge. He might be our double agent, but he still works with Project Utopia and I'd rather keep the full extent of my abilities secret. (And is this, I wonder, what's happening here? Is Steve keeping nova powers from me - or maybe his ex's nova abilities from me - because he feels that same need to keep some things secret? But he knows all mine. He's the first person I've ever opened up so fully to; the first person I've felt comfortable to be in a relationship with, so his betrayal is still greater than mine. Pax is a friend, not a lover.)

As we flew on, struggling to follow the temperature differentiation, Adam's voice appeared in my mind. He sounded subdued, but didn't offer to elabourate and I wasn't going to push him: he'd tell me when he needed to. I let him know our route - towards Austria - and he met us as we reached a mountain village around 120km from where Vienna used to be. A trail led from the village, and a figure visible in the distance (Steve? Steve's accomplice?). They weren't dressed for the region, and their androgyny reminded me of the person who helped extinguish that fire in London - the one Holly accompanied me to. Another pang of guilt: if that was Steve (or Holly's mother, maybe? or some friend of one of the other of them), then would they believe I'd put Holly in danger in that moment? I mused on this as we progressed, and was perhaps less startled by the iceberg that erupted in our path, having seen the ice manipulation this individual - if it was the same - was capable of.

We bypassed it to find a concrete structure, doors blown open by the still-raging blizzard. We fought through the razor-sharp ice to find ourselves in a large hangar, the giant icicles that had obliterated the front doors shattering at our approach whilst the identical doors at the back were untouched and sealed shut. Maybe that was our clue we should be finding a different route, but the black-and-gold armoured squads in the hangar weren't about to let us leave without a fight. I tried to subdue without killing, though Pax and Adam showed fewer qualms. One woman's gun exploded when she didn't drop it soon enough as I heated it - she lost her hands, but I managed to keep her alive. She was the only survivor, so I carried her unconscious form through the back doors as they exploded open. Clearly a trap, but what could we do?

And not the trap we were expecting.

More to come soon: we're playing again tomorrow so I've been trying (and failing!) to catch up. Two or three more updates (possibly also one from Bells, explaining Adam's missing period) and we'll be up to current date, but tomorrow is intended as a long session so it will be a while before I'm caught up. 

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