Sunday 22 November 2015

Aberrant - Gleaming Secrets

It's been a while since I played Aberrant and even longer since I wrote about it. I put off writing up the last few sessions - initially because I wasn't ready to let go of such a great game, and then because I'd forgotten too much. Fortunately, my GM is lovely and has finished plotting the next Aberrant arc so doesn't need my notebook and has leant it to me - which means I can finish up! If you need a reminder, the last episode is here, and you can see a full index here.  Some of what happened in game feels uncomfortable in light of global events that took place subsequently, but I guess that's one of the dangers of stories.

I didn't manage to see Jen before the press conference. Julia Brooks, the St John LLP PR rep, finished up delivering the company's report on their merger with Triton and advising on their progress with medical research, then announced their public support for a project - the Nova Initiative. Us. She introduced Alastair; we walked out behind him, our clothes shifting into full uniform as we stepped to the stage. We. Adam and I, of course. Jean, Stef, Mark, Robert. No Rachel - still on sabbatical. And Jen and Remy with us. As we walked across the stage, Alastair let his mask slip and I realised just how much like Benedict he really looks. That portrait in the moon base...

Alastair introduced himself and gave details of his father's death. As he dismissed the stand-in, the illusion fell and I saw that the man in truth looked nothing like my former mentor. The orphaned child who'd been standing in as Alastair also reverted to his own image. Poor kid: his whole life he's been someone else. But back to Alastair: he publicly announced he was the child of 2 novas. I'm worried he's put himself more in danger, if we're right about the deaths of other nova families. Although we kept our faces blank, Adam confirmed to me that he was also concerned.

He gave the history of the Nova Initiative, that the death of the Russian Premiere at an event we were providing security for moved us from a more observational role to greater action. Action that was carefully kept from the public (Adam and I raised psychic eyebrows to each other as we thought of things we'd done that had been credited to other agencies). No more: now we, the Nova Initiative, were going to be recognised for what we'd done, and the truth of Vienna (as far as we knew it) would be revealed - he guided the press to the packs under their chairs (referred to a device that couldn't be disarmed; didn't mention it was a nova...). He praised the non-novas who work with us and ended quoting Yeats's poem He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven.

The press paused, then rose with questions. He handled them deftly: I saw his mother in him, then. Of course, they wanted to know more about him as nova born. He did bring up the child who died in a car crash as being the only other nova-born-of-nova we know, and stressed that Nicky's all human. Despite being the only person of his type, he said he's not lonely: he has his friends, his family and his colleagues. "I may not be human, but I am a person". Jen was only pregnant with him for three days. A quick bit of maths and a comment to Adam confirmed, that suggested he was born earlier than we'd thought.

Reporters went digging into the history of the NI, so he confirmed Benedict had paid for the set up from his own pocket, not St John LLP funds. He told them we'd stayed hidden because we numbered around 45 novas and 8,500 baselines, spread across the globe. I know those numbers are, well, let's say a little conservative. He did mention a few members who, like Adam and I, are recognised names. Of course, absolutely no mention of Pax's connection with us. Even in the open we're keeping some things in the shadows.

It didn't take long for news agencies to be reporting not only this news, but also the responses from various world leaders, and from Pax as leader of Team Tomorrow. We'd kept him in the dark about our announcement to protect him, but it felt disloyal. Adam, in his public persona as Philip Rogers, came forward to announce that he was setting up a foundation for the victims of terrorism, and all proceeds of his film would be going towards it.

I finally had a chance to talk to Jen. She explained that Benedict had always wanted her to keep her abilities secret because she isn't very powerful - her power lies in boosting another. I can understand, but still felt betrayed, as much by Benedict as by her. We joined Benedict because he was the one who hadn't kidnapped us, then we discover he was behind that kidnapping, and even after his death he's keeping secrets from me and the bit of me that's still emotionally human is screaming that it's not fair. 

Steve, Holly and I took Nicky back to London to give Adam and Sam a quiet afternoon together. Holly had plans to meet friends, so Steve and I went to check in on Bill at the Styx - he wasn't there, but other friends were and Pete showed up too so we had a nice evening. Pete explained Bill's away at the moment. He'll have a bit of a shock when he's back, then...

When Holly was ready, we headed back to Cambridge. Holly helped me put Nicky to bed: as soon as she and I were alone, she turned to me, worried. 

"I... I don't want to tell Dad cos you know how he gets, but I think I was followed earlier." She described a tall, heavy-set man with olive skin in an overcoat and a slender, brown haired, pale skinned woman. The man followed her for a bit, then the woman, then the man again: he'd changed his hat. I'd be tempted to dismiss it as teenage fancy after the fright of the day before, but Holly was upset and I didn't want to take any chances. She agreed to let Alastair get the images from her mind as long as we could keep it secret from Steve. 

Which, of course, didn't work. Dad-senses tingling, he insisted on speaking to Holly alone; as he did so, Alastair told me he couldn't get into Holly's head, which is very unusual and has me more worried. Steve stormed out of Holly's bedroom and said he had to see some people and would explain on his return. Holly, pale, begged I follow. All she could tell me was that it was to do with her mum and why they left Brighton. I flew from the window, but couldn't see him or his car and the overcast sky meant I couldn't fly high enough to get a decent field of vision. I tried shifting the clouds, but they wouldn't budge. Weather manipulation isn't something I practice often, but this should have been straightforward and my fear is another nova's involved. Alastair took Holly and Nicky to the moon base so he could use the device there to try and track Steve for me. He couldn't find him, so needed me to link in and 7 billion voices yammering into my mind... how does Alastair do this? It felt like I was being torn apart, and I was only taking the slack of it.

And still no sign of Steve. 

Saturday 21 November 2015

How far I've come

I want to talk about how far I've come with circus, because it's something I'm really proud of.
I started in March 2014 and was lucky enough to get onto the hoop on my first session. Learning to climb the silks took a bit longer - my flexibility (except in my hamstrings) has been an asset on the hoop but a hindrance on the silks until I developed sufficient  strength to combat it. Once I got stronger, though, my confidence and enjoyment on the silks improved dramatically, taking me from this:
to this:
And now I can do work in single footlock without needing to strap my foot! The 'cross-legged release' is the bit I was most pleased with: it was omitted in the first video because every time I tried it my knee would bend sideways and I'd fall out. I still take it carefully, but I'm a lot safer now, and my stamina is much improved.
sometimes I feel like I'm auditioning for a music video

Even though I found hoop easier to begin with, I actually think hoop is where I've made the most improvement. Maybe it's because I've been aware of my strength building on silks week by week, whilst I hadn't noticed so much progress in hoop until I helped out at a beginners' class and was surprised to overhear one learner whisper to another that they'd never be as good as me. That surprised me and brought to mind how it had been to be a beginner, so later when I was undertaking a move I recalled the video of the first routine I ever learnt:
And when I had the chance, I asked if I could revisit that routine. Roughly 18 months had passed between the two. I knew I could do the moves more neatly and with greater commitment, but I was surprised by how much grace I've acquired. That's been the biggest delight for me: I've spent a long time being told I have no sense of rhythm, and feeling clumsy and ungainly, so to be able to achieve something like this was exciting.
Everyone should have something in their life that makes them feel as good as circus does me.