Sunday 15 March 2015

Aberrant - In the meantime...

Our last session ended with a broadcast when Nicky Mason was about a year and a half old: interrupting all programming, a copper-haired man talked about the way novas were better than humans and that any nova who chose to obey human laws and retain a relationship with humanity was a coward or a fool: being neither, Chrissie was cut by this. Especially as she was curled up watching a film with Steve and Holly at the point the broadcast overrode all channels, all websites. She'd known a war between humans and novas was becoming inevitable but had hoped it could yet be averted. No longer. She didn't want the humans in her life to be hurt and she didn't want them to be afraid of her or her nova friend: she is angry and afraid. She is also in strong disagreement that being better than human means you should disregard humans. Rather, she feels it gives you a duty to protect and care for them. Which then makes her uncomfortable, because it makes her aware of her own assessment of humans as 'lesser' - sheep to her shepherd - a hypocrisy she'd rather not face. It's also made her realise how often she flouts human law and she's worried she's on the wrong side of this fight.

Anyway, our GM has given us a list of key events during the time between the birth of Adam's daughter and the broadcast and asked us to let him know what Chrissie & Adam have been up to in the downtime. Here's Chrissie's 2003-04 (with a slight back-track and a chunk of Chrissie self-assessment psychology - there's also some bad language cos Chrissie tends to swear a lot):

A few weeks into January 2003, I went down to see Steve - Holly, I knew, was out at a sleepover and I half expected him to be having an early night himself, but he was up: "Working late," he explained with a half-smile. Grabbed a cup of coffee for each of us and nodded as I explained we needed to talk. For a baseline human, he can be incredibly perceptive and intuitive.

He explained since his wife Holly had been his world and that would never change. Needed me to understand, so we were on the same page. But she loves me - we both knew that. And of course, that's how I got into this mess... I'd never have hung around long enough to care this much if it wasn't for her, and as much as Steve needed me to know that Holly would always be his priority I needed him to know how fucked up I am.

I've not spoken to our parents since I took Pete over to them after we all thought he was dead.

I don't think it's that they don't love me, I think. I think it's that they don't know how to. They gave Pete and I everything, growing up: the best schooling (single-sex boarding school, far enough away we knew no one), whatever books or toys were popular (but not the ones we wanted), healthy food, ballet classes for me and rowing for Pete (although I preferred swimming and gymnastics and Pete wanted to play rugby), exciting foreign holidays (5 star hotels that you never had to leave). Everything except love. They understood the value of money and that's always been enough for them. And Pete followed in Daddy's footsteps and was the favoured child because of it, whilst I'd had enough by my teens and rebelled and if it wasn't for Bill* catching me when he did, well, who knows where I'd have ended up. Because I've never been given an emotional role model.

So I needed Steve to understand I had no faith in myself as a girlfriend or as a step-mother and would need his patience and guidance.

Adam picked up the slight change in me after that: a tension going out of me that he noticed the way you notice an ignored sound stopping. I think he'd have liked to tease me, but I am actually happy in a way that's very novel to me so his teasing hasn't worked.

And then Nicky was born and I thought again of that file I was given on Mark - and of the comment 'Charles' made - and that tiny, fragile little baby decided me. I'd kept the file safely in Benedict's lab and opened it there - the most secure place I know.

It wasn't what I'd expected: a short video dated 23rd March 1995 (3 years before N-day). In the video, a man stripped to the waist was tied to a chair. Lank, dark hair hid his face and his impressive physique was criss-crossed with scars. A voice spoke and the hairs rose on my neck: Benedict accused the man in the chair of treason, stealing and selling nuclear weapons. The charges were familiar, but I doubted it was Harris in the chair. There was no surprise when the man looked up with cold eyes staring from Mark's face. Despite the circumstances, his voice didn't falter as he declared he'd do it again.

So this was Mark before he was Mark. The video showed nothing further, but part of me suspects he doesn't remember this event.  I'll continue to keep an eye on him, but this secret can remain so unless circumstances change.

The year and a half following the birth of Nicky was fairly quiet. We mostly stuck to humanitarian work: search and rescue; disaster relief; rescuing, protecting and rehoming refugees. Nothing dramatic. Gave me time to focus on studying, going further in depth into various sciences to try to make sense of the changing universe. And time to build a relationship.

In September 2003 Sao Paulo exploded: an area the size of around 30 blocks flattened. We were allowed to help in the immediate disaster relief, but as soon as I started poking my nose in, trying to find out the who, how and why of the bombing, I was warned off. It was in the hands of Interpol and the Brazilian Government and my interference was not wanted. This was particularly frustrating because rumours circulated that it was the fault of Novas, leading to more rising tensions. Project Utopia have been tasked with overseeing all Nova-created tech, which is fine because we have Pax on the inside, but on the otherhand it is restrictive. We have an awful lot of undeclared tech at the Hub and it's not as if we entirely trust Utopia.

Realising I was not going to be able to make my own investigations into the bombing, I used the time to make plans to have the best possible first Christmas with Steve and Holly. I made sure to see my other friends (baseline and Nova) and Pete as well, but it felt important that this be special for the 3 of us.

New Year at the Styx as normal, then back to studying for a few months - there are so many areas I need to understand that I've started to build up a new network of contacts within the scientific community beyond the Hub. Jean and I spent a couple of months with MSF - he'd worked for them before erupting and still donates what time he can. Our assistance was much appreciated and it felt good to be nursing again. I managed to see Antaeus and his project. It's going very well - Nigerian desert starting to be green. Like Antaeus's skin, unless I was imagining things.

The paper I produced from the research I 've been doing was again to be presented as part of a key note speech - San Francisco, this time. The evening unfortunately coincided with the premier of Adam's new film, or I'd have been along to support him and he I. Still, in the questions afterwards, one person's insight stood out - and as I spoke to people after the same person requested I sign a book: "Make it out to Magnus," he requested, and was gone before I could get a good look. I suspect he was the one who left a copy of my book with useful annotations that will help me move this forward - exciting, but almost unnerving, not to know who your co-worker is. Especially one as potentially valuable as this. But at least San Fran stayed on the map.

And a few days later there was the speech with which the previous session closed and the next session opened. Chrissie's also spent the year worrying about her friend Bill, who still seems very depressed since his girlfriend left him. It's not something she knows how to fix. The GM has given Chrissie a point of influence in the science community, a science specialisation of my choice (I went for bio-physics) and 1 dot's worth of contact for both Antaeus and MSF - as well as the loss of 2 points of temporary taint, thanks to Steve and Holly.
The next session shouldn't take long to write up - it was a short session, due to LIFE - but I'm not sure when I'll get to it. Most of this was preprared - I just needed to add in GM feedback - so this can keep you going on Aberrant for now.

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