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!

Tuesday 24 February 2015

'Infernal' by Wartorn Games

Ok, I'm not allowed to say much at the moment, but I was helping playtest 'Infernal', the new game from Wartorn Games last weekend. I really liked it. I really like the background and the simplicity of the mechanics and I'm excited by the concept art/models I've seen (including female models who aren't suggestively posed!).

More info will follow shortly, but in the meantime if you're free on 25th April and can get to London, they will be at Salute where you will be able to get more info (and see some cool stuff).

Friday 20 February 2015

An Aberrant Update: Chasing Crazy Cajuns.

I've got a lot less time for writing than I did in my old job - partly from settling into new job and partly from a bit of mess in the Real World, which really sucks but isn't a matter for this blog except that it's delayed things. Basically, I'm going to try and catch up with Aberrant tonight - and it is going to be a scatty third-person catch up because it's been a while and I'm a bit muddled on what I've missed - then work on posting weekly until I'm at least caught up with my OU work. So Aberrant tonight, Pathfinder next week and then alternations and occasional diversions into coding, circus and books.

We left our daring duo after they'd broken into NASA, 'mugged' a former employee and returned him home after stealing his memories of being controlled by novas before any known nova existed. They haven't seen Antaeus since.

Anyway, back at the Hub, Jen called Chrissie out to meet her for coffee. It was a bit of a ruse: Montgomery, the man who'd held her and Adam when they first erupted, was there with Jen and Alastair. They both apologised, but knowing Chrissie still held some resentment towards Montgomery had felt it necessary. Chrissie was annoyed to discover he was a 'close family friend': the cogs whirled in her head as she realised Benedict had almost certainly arranged for her brief interment. Still, Montgomery's offer was appealing: with the replacement internet due to go live in the UK the next day, he needed her team to help ensure the turn-on ran smoothly. The main event was happening in London and was already well-guarded. The Nova Initiative were requested to be at the Manchester data centre, much more vital to the event. London was a distraction. Alastair insisted on joining them.

There was, of course, trouble at Manchester: the walls of the building were filled with C4. In the process of trying to rescue the place, Chrissie and Alastair teleported off to another location, following the trail of a nova. Alastair, appearing to be outside himself, exploded two of the people they found, whilst Chrissie defended the third as a captive. Taking her back, Mark insisted on torturing her to find out who'd put the C4 in and how to disarm it. Chrissie wasn't happy about the torture, and it didn't help.

Some powerful nova with a Cajun accent showed up. A bit of investigation suggested his name was Robert A Fett [this was Husbit's fault. Chrissie, having not seen Star Wars, did not get the reference: even Pax, when he learnt of this, teased her for it]. He wouldn't give his real name so ended up known by various frustrated pseudonyms. Rescuing the captive, he threw a deadman's switch to set off the C4 as he stepped with the captive through a warp: despite Adam's best efforts, it was Alastair's lightning speed that saved the building.

London was not so lucky: explosions later, and the Houses of Parliament was destroyed. Adam and Chrissie helped dig MP's (some with some reluctance on Chrissie's part) out of the rubble: the President of the USA owes them his daughter's life and now the PM of the UK owes them his own life. 

In the confusion, they discover Jen has gone missing with the book Benedict left her. Alastair was understandably terribly distressed: he couldn't find her anywhere. Chrissie and Adam took him to the moon and, working his way through the base, he found a room akin to (but sufficiently different from) cerebro. This is also when they had the conversation that got so under my skin.

Using the device in the moon, Alastair discovered that the Cajun was the one holding his mother. He told the three to stop looking for him, that Jen would be returned on the Cajun's timescale.

They struggled to track him down as time passed.

The team convinced Adam to propose to Sam on Christmas Day a short while later (I think the internet turning on was 23rd November: the anniversary of Vienna). They were married the following Christmas, in an ice palace (it may have been late and we may have been starting to get a bit silly...) The Cajun showed up and made veiled threats against Sam if they didn't back off. This terrified Adam, so Chrissie didn't tell him when she kept looking whilst he was on honeymoon - even when her own brother was kidnapped, even when she learnt the Cajun would be in Paris and faked an accidental meeting with him that backfired and resulted in her receiving an email attachment showing the Cajun pushing her brother from a plane. She tracked down where he landed (shown in the footage), but there was no body, only lots of blood.

Her parents were not impressed.

Adam and Sam got back. Sam fell pregnant some months later. Chrissie looked at the quantum signatures and worried that the child might have the potential to be as potent as Alastair.

They stepped up their hunt, calling a favour from President Clinton - they'd discovered from a nova who'd faced him in combat that he seemed military trained and somewhere they learnt his name (Remy something-that-I-forget). Clinton called in a favour and got them access to his records. From this, they found an impossible happening: he'd been holed up in a room during a war. No hope of escape as enemies came in. Yet he survived.

They tracked down his former team, all of whom denied any knowledge of him. One now worked security for a factory making the action figures of Team Tomorrow: a life-size Pax stood in the lobby of the factory and Chrissie managed to convince them to let her have one. They gave it to Pax and filled him in - he offered to join them as he had some leave available.

They went to see the Cajun's family, pretending to be journalists. The family all believed him to be dead and all spoke very highly of his morals. Chrissie had to bite her tongue.

As they left, the Cajun arrived to warn them off again: he had Sam and made a threat against Holly.Chrissie flew straight home and crept into Steve's apartment using her spare key. Steve slept silently but spread across his whole bed: he seemed fine. Holly snored like a monster truck, and a note lay on her pillow. Chrissie read it and pocketed it to destroy later. It stated how well Holly slept.

Steve heard her creeping out. She wouldn't have been able to hold herself together without her control over the quantum energies as she explained what was going on. She omitted the details of the threat against Holly, but suspected Steve was smart enough to understand.

It was agreed some crazy play was needed, and they returned to the Cajun's family (with cakes. Another late night moment...). He arrived and there was a brief fight. I say brief: the entire team with Pax in support were completely outmatched but refused to be defeated. 

"What the hell did Benedict do that you're taking it out on us?" Chrissie eventually shouted.
"He was my friend" was the unexpected reply. It had been Benedict who had saved him from the impossible situation - he had not been a nova at that point.

It turned out that Remy thought they'd caused the destruction of Vienna and had taken Jen from them to keep her safe. As a human, Jen had been unable to stop him and unable to convince him otherwise. He took them to Jen, Sam... and Pete. They filled him in on what they knew of Vienna and on a few of their concerns with Project Utopia. Remy had erupted as a nova earlier than Adam and Chrissie, but they explained (to the surprise of their team and Pax) their own early eruption. 

Pax was shocked at what he learnt of Utopia and ended up joining the Initiative, although agreed to return to Utopia undercover.

Remy had had doctors check out the pregnant Sam and claimed there was no sign of any nova nature in the foetus. Chrissie is dubious and slightly concerned.

In romance news, at some point after the discovery of Sam's pregnancy, Adam accidentally mentioned to Chrissie that he had concerns about their relationship. Chrissie was concerned because she'd finally started to admit to herself that she had feelings for Steve (Holly's presence meant she hadn't been able to run away at the point she normally would). She's aware she could develop feelings for someone like Pax or Jean, but is still not comfortable with the idea of a relationship - but with Steve, a lot of the emotional closeness she is afraid of has already happened. Adam admitted that he had developed feelings for someone else on the team - and Chrissie has seen how Rachel looks at him... She's keeping an eye on this: she doesn't want trouble but has no idea how to control this sort of thing.

I think that brings us up to date with Aberrant. Another session tomorrow means I can find out if I have managed to miss anything big...

Saturday 14 February 2015

C Programming: Hot/Cold Guessing Game

3 weeks or so ago at work, I was introduced to the programming language, C. We were given a brief overview ('Hello World', scanf for an integer, printf, compare functions and if statements), and then something came up and interrupted our training (this has been a bit of a theme), so we were left to ourselves.

The final task on the training we'd been given was to get the user to input a number, to compare that number to one set in the programme and then congratulate the user if they guessed the right number, tell them if their guess was too big or commiserate them.

That seemed a bit boring, and once the number had been worked out by the player there was no point playing again. So, with a bit of help from the internet, I found a way of creating a random number and then played with loops and breaks to give the player multiple guesses and an escape clause in case they got bored, and the absolute function to provide hot/cold clues.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h> /*For the random function, srand */
#include <time.h> /*By using time to seed the random function, the output changes each time*/

int main() {
                int guess, answer, difference, x;
                answer = rand() % 10 + 1; /*produces a random number between 1 & 10*/
                printf("What number am I thinking of?\n");
                for (x = 1; x <= 3; x++) {
                                scanf("%d", &guess);
                                if(guess == answer) {
                                else {
                                                difference = abs(guess-answer);
                                                if(difference == 2 || difference == 3) {
                                                                printf("getting warm\nTry again\n");
                                                else if(difference == 1) {
                                                                printf("Scorching hot! \nTry again\n");
                                                else {
                                                                printf("Freezing! \nTry again\n");
                if(guess != answer){
                                printf("(Fed up? You can type '0' to lose)\n");
                                scanf("%d", &guess);
                while(guess != answer) {
                                difference = abs(guess - answer);
                                if(guess == 0) {
                                                printf("You lose\n");
                                else if(difference == 3) {
                                                printf("getting warm\nTry again\n");
                                else if(difference == 2) {
                                                printf("getting warmer\nTry again\n");
                                else if(difference == 1) {
                                                printf("Scorching hot!\nTry again\n");
                                else if(guess < answer) {
                                                printf("Freezing! My number's bigger.\nTry again\n");
                                else if(guess > answer) {
                                                printf("Freezing! My number's smaller.\nTry again\n");
                                scanf("%d", &guess);
                if (guess == answer) {
                                printf("You win!\n");
return 0;

Our trainer was suitably impressed so included to build a treasure hunt game as part of our next module, on arrays. He was going to give us battleships but decided that was too complicated, so when our training was next interrupted, I worked on that. So I have a few more bits of code to show you in the future, and also have a few issues with initiliasing the arrays that I can't work out why it doesn't work. But I'll show you that another time.

Wednesday 4 February 2015

Yet another placeholder post....

Sorry for delays in updates after my promises to get back to normal: life and new job have had me very busy!

I'm learning to programme using C at the moment, and loving it. Mostly building silly time-waster games (like guessing the random number) to help test and stretch those of us in training. I may well share some of the code here, because I'm really enjoying it :)