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[STORY THREAD] Manifest Destiny


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Prologue I

 

They returned, from the Eye of the World, Deezy, Ryan, and Temple, each thinking their own thoughts. Deezy and Ryan needed to talk get their stories straight  and decide how much to reveal to the government that had sent them on the mission in the first place. Temple begged off saying she was exhausted and needed to rest. With out any other explanation she stepped from the place Ryan had brought them to home.

 

Home.

 

When did she decide that that was what this was? She wasn’t sure. But it was home as much as anyplace could be. Her mind scanned the surrounding as an afterthought. It was late here in Houston, after midnight, but Davion was still awake in his office. He slept little and worked a lot.

 

She walked through the outer meeting room running her fingers across the Round Table. He had had it put in right after their first mission. She had been a fan of King Arthur and his knights when she was a child. Now she wasn’t sure she could sit at this table and be honest.

 

About anything.

 

She knocked on the door, softly, but didn’t wait, opening it only enough for her to slip through and closing it behind her.

 

Davion looked up at the knock and into Temple’s eyes. He couldn’t put a finger on it because it wasn’t something anyone could see, but she was different. She had changed.

 

“Davion, we need to talk,” she said as she erected a psychic barrier that no one on Earth could hope to breech.

 

Spring and Summer of 2022

 

It had been a busy two years, for everyone.  First the Storm and then its aftermath that had changed the world forever and set paths in motion that would further alter the landscape of Earth and Humanity. The cause was known to a handful of persons, both stormer and non.

The US Government clamped a lid on the knowledge, sharing the information of the alien presence and its effect on humanity from all but its staunchest allies. The small group of enhanced who had made the discovery, so far have kept it close to their vests as well.

 

Around the world rebuilding had been going at Fullsteam and much had been accomplished, the world that had been in shock and mourning was starting to live again and look to a bright and hopeful future. But even that couldn’t last.

 

At the end of February 2022 Russia invaded the country of Ukraine. There had existed a semi state of war over contested regions before the Storm and after things had settle into a stalemate with little to no fighting, but this was a full scale invasion. The conflict was conventional with many nations throwing support behind Ukraine and condemning Russia, there was very high risk of the war overflowing the borders of the combatants. Still with the support of the West the small, beleaguered nation held its own.

 

The war caused an economic crisis across the globe that was softened by Novastorm’s, and companies like them, efforts to provide alternate energy sources and enhanced food supplies.

 

 

But the war wasn’t the only thing going on…

 

Prologue II

 

It was late, or early depending on how you looked at it. Renata slipped into the house she had moved into last fall, it was an old wood frame single story, two-bedroom, one bath, nice small yard with space for a small garden out back, that belonged to a couple who had worked for the collage. They had moved to Florida after it had been reopened following the Storm, the incentives had been too good to refuse. They didn’t sell the house instead opting to rent it out. Ren had jumped at it when it became available, and the rent was something she could afford now. It was a lot easier to maintain a secret Identity when living alone instead of in the dorm.

 

Tonight’s crime patrol had been anti-climactic, but then a lot of their patrols had been lately. Beckett and she had seriously put a dent in crime over the last eighteen months.

 

Eighteen months, that’s how long the two of them had been super-heroeing together. Professor Carlisle had been helping out but way behind the scenes with intel and even covering for them at school. All in secret. At least that’s what he and Beckett thought but Ren knew.

Beckett could be so frustrating…

 

Ren froze her hand halfway to the light switch. She wasn’t alone in the house and whoever was here was a Psion!

 

“You can turn the lights on Renata, I am not going to hurt you.”

 

The voice was young. And from the south. Renata flipped the lights on ready for anything. Well, anything but the little girl sitting on her couch.

 

She was small, looked no older than sixteen or seventeen, a plain round face with a sad expression, straight lank mousy brown hair. If you saw her on the street, you probably wouldn’t even notice her. Except for her clothes. Her jeans looked new and designer, her shoes were expensive Nikes of the latest model and not knock offs, her blouse was silk and shimmered in the light.

 

Suddenly the little girl smiled, her whole face  lit up, “I been watching you and that other girl, do yer thang, I thought was time we had a talk. My name is Temple,” she drawled.

 

 

 

The war that started the end…

 

It was middle of summer the war in Ukraine had been going on for five months and didn’t look close to stopping. The day-to-day fighting was no longer on everyone minds at least not in the parts of the west far from the scenes. In America aside from the outrageous prices no one really gave the European war more than a passing thought in their day to day lives. Even the Russian leaders provocative pronouncements and threats feel on deaf ears as just one more hollow threat of a crazy Russian dictator.

 

But all that changed when the Russians launched their largest bloodiest attack and a missile hit a school in Ukraine. A school full of elementary aged children. Over two dozen dead and hundreds wounded.

 

 That afternoon as a column of Russian tanks and armored personnel advanced and drove back the Ukrainian forces a civilian car skidded to a stop a hundred feet ahead of the tanks. A man got out and started walking toward the tanks carrying something. A child. Dead in his arms.

 

The man cried, tears flowed down his face in streams, he shouted at the tanks, the shout turned to a scream of pain and rage. The tanks came on.

 

The man set the body of his child on the ground and stepped over it. Clenched his fists at his side he shouted, “NO MORE!”

 

Beams of crackling purple black energy shot from his eyes, he swung them across the advancing army and everywhere the beams touch death and destruction followed. Tanks and APCs shredded, men disintegrated and the molecular structure binding them together was burned away by the beams from the man’s eyes. In seconds the entire Russian Armored column was destroyed leaving nothing but piles of smoking sludge. It was all caught on video by a flying drone.

 

A Nova had gone to war.

 

 

Prologue III

 

Ryan sat in one of the control nodes on the Black Knight, he wasn’t doing anything, he was relaxing reading a novel. Deezy was off somewhere helping to install the newest invention, Gravity Plates. For once not her invention and not something based on the alien tech of the BK or the data base from Africa. This tech had been pure earth designed from preliminary work  by NASA scientist that got a boost after the Storm when one of the scientists developed enhanced intelligence. Deezy was observing the installation of the plates in the main corridors and the control room and already redesigning the machinery in her head with improvements.

 

Ryan turned a page and looked up to take a look at the Earth spinning below, what he saw startled him. Across from where he sat was the projection of one of the tall aliens that they believed had built the Black Night.

 

The projections baffled him and Deezy both. That they were AI was obvious, of a similar sort as the one found in the Sahara but unlike that one as well and how they were projected was a lingering mystery as was how most of the ships tech operated. There was zero evidence of quantum power in any system and many of the systems seemed to be alive or rather displayed a pseudo life yet there was no biological component. Deezy had wanted to bring Temple up to have her look at it with her minds eye but the powers that be nixed that suggest forthwith. They wouldn’t even allow any of their Psions on board.

 

How long the projection had been there Ryan couldn’t say. Deezy and himself were the only ones that they had appeared to since the beginning and always the same two one red and one white. This one was different. It was dressed differently its suit festooned with long wide ribbons of translucent material which seemed to rotate through the spectrum of colors and it’s flesh was a silvery blue. It regarded Ryan with large, slanted eyes which were unblinking and somehow soft.

 

“You are the human Ryan Hawk, are you not?” it said with perfectly enunciated English, and an accent that was not an accent but was how the words were supposed to be spoken. Perfect diction, volume, and cadence.

 

Deezy watched as the last plate was being settled into place and was eagerly awaiting the floor to be turned on and to have gravity, when she noticed the Alien Projection standing beside her. It was different than the ones her and Ryan usually saw. The clothes were different, and it wore a sort poncho of some sort of translucent streamers it looked like and its face was silvery green and… was if chubby?

 

It turned its head and gazed into Deezy’s eyes. “These mechanisms are supposed to create a gravity field. Why?” Its voice was perfect, too perfect.

 

Someone screamed, Deezy looked and saw the workers backpedaling away in fright. They could see the projection!

 

 

Persons of Mass Destruction, PDMs, the newest weapon of war…

 

Petro Bagan was a 28 year old music teacher in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Married to his high school sweetheart Tatiana, they had a young daughter. In2019 when the Storm hit the worst effect, they suffered was a single day without electric power. While the monsters brought by the Storm raged around the world and the intense world-shattering weather toppled skyscrapers and flooded valleys, while the ocean swallowed ships, Islands and coastal cities around the world, little true damage would happen to Ukraine. But still the Storm had a monumental effect on Petro, and effect he kept secret from everyone.

 

Two years later when Russia invaded his country Petro knew he would have to fight but he was a pacifist, he wanted nothing to do with war, with killing. He knew that if the army came for him his secret would get out. He could not allow that.

 

When the missile hit the school that his daughter attended he was their for that was where he taught music. When he ran to his daughters class blood from getting hit on the head by flying debris covering the side of his face he was one of the few running into the building. He found his daughter Danica, she was gone, dead killed by the Russians.

 

Petro knew he was a Stormer, a Nova as they had been dubbed. He could generate powerful disintegrating beams from his eyes, he was tough, and he was mad.

 

The world had seen Novas fighting monsters and even each other. Those images were both terrific and terrifying. There had even been occasions where Novas had fought normal men armed with weapons and even super science. But no one had seen anything like what Petro Bagan did that day.

 

Eight hundred plus men and dozens of vehicles had been reduced to slag in less than five minutes. The world gasped in awe struck horror. It was literally the first time that the public in general had seen the destructive possibilities of an Enhanced person’s power.

The Russian dictator wasted no time. He sent his state controlled Enhanced to the front to deal with this Ukrainian Nova. None of the Russians were a match singly to Petro, but together they should be able to make short work of him. They had two Psion’s in their number who would be able to find the enemy and confuse him with mind powers and the rest, four more in all, would  take care of him and make a show of it for the drones. At least that was the plan.

 

Once unleashed and away from Moscow, the two psions vanished, leaving the Novas to fend for themselves. Together they were still capable, but without the Psions, they had lost their advantage and Petro had gone into hiding only showing himself to strike at the enemy, a super powered guerrilla.

 

Meanwhile the Russian enhanced found themselves embroiled in the war itself as they came under fire and returned in kind.

 

The UN condemned the use of Enhanced in the war. They and many of the nations of the West had passed law forbidding the participation of Enhanced powers on the battlefield. That was being ignored in the conflict. Following Petro Bagan’s startling video and his waging a one man war against the invader, other nonaffiliated Novas rushed to Ukraine to join him and put their powers to what they thought was a good cause…

 

Angry and frustrated at this newest embarrassment the Russian Dictator put a bounty of one billion dollars on Petro Bagan. A price many Nova were willing to mercenary for…

 

Prologue IV

 

Grace watched the news and pondered the discussion she had had with Agent Carson earlier.

 

It was about the war in Ukraine. Things were escalating and now it appeared that at least one American Nova, Bastion, had gone over there to lend his power to the Ukrainians. This was considered by the State Department to be very serious diplomatic breech. Bastion was a recognized hero with no affiliation to the government but as an individual had wrapped himself in the flag as a super patriot. His appearance in Ukraine had led to rummers that he was there at the behest of the US Government.

 

So far Moscow had been silent on the matter but while it had been kept secret it was an ill kept secret. The world believed that Russia had committed it entire force of Novas but they hadn’t. After the Storm when the enhanced were first making their appearance there had been another. His identity was unknown, but his power level was at the very highest, at least equal in output with giants like Britain’s Einherjar or herself, Apex. He had been code named Crimson Star and it was believed that the Dictator was holding him in reserve a true person of mass destruction.

 

Carson had ostensibly been here to ‘brief’ her in the matter as she was the spokesperson for the Chicago-3, but in reality, he had been here to determine if she would answer the call if her government asked her.

 

Her sixth sense tingled and she looked at her big plate glass doors leading to her balcony. Centerpoint was hovering there just outside. Grace crossed to the doors and open them.

 

“Hey hope I’m not intruding but saw your light”

 

“Not at all,” Grace looked around scanning the sky. “Where’s Brigit?”

 

“ She is making the rounds at the shelters tonight. I’m too much of a distraction so I’m doing the patrol but it’s all quiet on the western front. Middle of the week and all.

 

So is everything alright?”

 

 

MANIFEST DESTINY

 

Chapter 1

 

Turmoil

Chaos

War

 

The observer watched from afar. They had not been seen when they arrived and they kept their distance even now. The old Enemy was here and now a new enemy has been born on a world which was supposed to be a harvest planet.

 

Something had gone wrong. But that much had already been known or the Observer would not have been sent. But this was unexpected.

Something would have to be done, and waiting for instructions would be disastrous.

 

Chapter 2

 

Spoiler

All Characters are involved in this thread. When you go to respond to your prologue above you should begin your posts with a breif summery of the last two years.  Solo and off thread stories are still aloud and encouraged.  got forth and post

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How did someone consistently listed among the world's top ten physically strongest women spend two years of her life?

 

The answer turned out to be living it.

 

Konami, his adoption made official with all the embarrassing haste of a system bending under the unspoken pressure of both money and Nova celebrity, had adapted well to his private school, making friends, and becoming extremely Americanized, starting to speak in a confusing social dialect that made Grace feel both old and sympathetic to her parents dealing with her own cliques. To the Blonde Juggernaut's relief, his powers had stabilized into a grab bag of midrange gifts she, with a lot help of her Nova teammates and contacts, could help train him in. Walk the thin line between self-defence and overkill. It made her feel good that she could.

 

The apartment was quiet tonight, Konami staying with her parents for the week, another plank in the bridge of trust that the Williams family had almost lost. Well, it was working for now.

 

Speaking of her sole companion for the evening, TV providing background noise as she worked on yet another spreadsheet, it was going... Well. '#Chicago3' was doing great, keeping the feared criminal violence to a minimum, odd ambushes aside. Grace still tended not to patrol, but if there was a flashpoint crisis, she was a leap or a portal away and the distinctive Deezy-crafted Eufiber outfit she wore on those occasions telegraphed her intent to 'resolve the problem'. As comic booky as it was, the bodyglove with waist cape, snow-white at the bottom and transitioning to sky-blue around her shoulders with a mountain-like red 'A' on the back, she liked it. Fun and preserved her modesty against her own brute force.

 

She was actually wearing it now, morphed into a comfortable set of sportswear emblazoned with 'I ❤️ Chicago'. The meetings, fundraisers, and public appearances might demand something more refined, but in private? She'd learned to relax that much with Konami. A particular bit of the latest Nova-inflicted atrocity in Ukraine dragged her gaze up from her laptop.  

 

Spoiler

Grace watched the news and pondered the discussion she had had with Agent Carson earlier.

 

It was about the war in Ukraine. Things were escalating and now it appeared that at least one American Nova, Bastion, had gone over there to lend his power to the Ukrainians. This was considered by the State Department to be very serious diplomatic breech. Bastion was a recognized hero with no affiliation to the government but as an individual had wrapped himself in the flag as a super patriot. His appearance in Ukraine had led to rummers that he was there at the behest of the US Government.

 

So far Moscow had been silent on the matter but while it had been kept secret it was an ill kept secret. The world believed that Russia had committed it entire force of Novas but they hadn’t. After the Storm when the enhanced were first making their appearance there had been another. His identity was unknown, but his power level was at the very highest, at least equal in output with giants like Britain’s Einherjar or herself, Apex. He had been code named Crimson Star and it was believed that the Dictator was holding him in reserve a true person of mass destruction.

 

Carson had ostensibly been here to ‘brief’ her in the matter as she was the spokesperson for the Chicago-3, but in reality, he had been here to determine if she would answer the call if her government asked her.

 

Her sixth sense tingled and she looked at her big plate glass doors leading to her balcony. Centerpoint was hovering there just outside. Grace crossed to the doors and open them.

 

“Hey hope I’m not intruding but saw your light”

 

“Not at all,” Grace looked around scanning the sky. “Where’s Brigit?”

 

“ She is making the rounds at the shelters tonight. I’m too much of a distraction so I’m doing the patrol but it’s all quiet on the western front. Middle of the week and all.

So is everything alright?”

 

Grace considered her quantumly-distracting teammate and offering a pat reassurance she was fine and continue to let her worries mull in the back of her thoughts but decided against it. She stepped back from the doorway, waving Sean in. "Not really. Agent Carson came to visit me today, talked about Bastion's choice to go take part in the war," she began, gesturing at the television to make abundantly clear which war she was referring to before continuing, "But he was really asking if I, we really, would go help if asked."

 

Her voice, soft and smooth, was heavy with thoughts, the dark gray thunderheads of a thousand worries that'd have a less stoic mind babbling a mile a minute, "And honestly..? If he asked openly, I might say yes. It may have fallen off with my Father's generation, but my Grandfather and Granduncle both served, Officers in the Navy for one term, and others before them, Williams paying back the country that made our wealth possible, at least partially. And I'm a Williams with a younger Williams looking up at me at what service means when Novas can do what we do. Definitely a Bad Idea, but leaving those people and our soldiers to, further, suffer in harm's way when I can do so much to bring all but the greatest of us to heel..."

 

A faint flush danced in her cheeks, Grace upset at being dangerously close to *actually* babbling and abruptly walking towards her kitchen, "...Coffee? I think I have the brand you like."

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It turned its head and gazed into Deezy’s eyes. “These mechanisms are supposed to create a gravity field. Why?” Its voice was perfect, too perfect.

 

Someone screamed, Deezy looked and saw the workers backpedaling away in fright. They could see the projection!

 

 

"Everyone relax!" Deezy called sharply. "It's okay. We're just talking. See?"

 

She held out a hand towards them, then looked back at the projection.

 

"Our bodies developed under gravity, and we have systems that depend on gravity to function properly," Deezy explains. "We can function in freefall for a little while, but in the long term there's health problems that come from lacking a net gravitational force on us."

 

Her eyes roved over the figure, picking out and cataloguing the differences between it and other avatars she'd seen. Not just in terms of its appearance but its behavior. She had a feeling that this could be one of the aliens that built the place, perhaps transmitting in from range. Hopefully transmitting in from range. Their mastery of concealment technology meant it might be hard to spot one of their ships even if it was nearby.

 

"You don't seem to be a representation of any system on this space station. Who are you?"

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Two years.   In two short years, life had changed so radically for Ryan.   As one of the Co-Founders of Novastorm, he'd become important in ways he'd never imagined he would.   First contact with not one, but two different alien races, unassisted spacewalks, and even more.   Once Prospector Station was fully up and running, things would Change with a capital "C" again.
 

Ryan spent a fair amount of time traveling, sometimes to meet and recruit new personnel for Novastorm, and others, simply to add new places to his repetoire of locations he could open a gate to.   He wasn't always successful but moreoften than not, his earnest nature, and the ideals he held to were enough to get people to believe in him, and in the goals he strove for.

It was easy to say that Ryan lived for Novastorm, and he threw himself into his responsibilities with the company with a renewed conviction.   Along with Deezy he truly wanted to make life better for everyone, both enhanced and unenhanced.  He wasn't naieve, he knew there'd be those who wouldn't see the benefit in doing good.   He'd set up training programs for those enhanced who agreed in how to use their powers in crisis situations.  Not necessarily all combat, the last thing that he wanted was for them to come off as raising a private army, but he wanted Novastorm to be able to respond to nearly any crisis that arose.
 

He'd viewed the situation in Ukraine with unease, and once Enhanced became involved, He knew he wanted no part of the conflict.  They had far too many other fights that would happen soon enough to start fighting amongst themselves. Some he knew would be enticed by the bounty, but it did nothing for him.  He'd actually considered raising the bonuses for the company, just to keep those working for Novastorm from even thinking about going to Ukraine.   He couldn't stop them, but he could provide a better alternative.
 

The Government had wisely not outright asked him to intervene, which he wouldn't do, unless some very specific conditions were met.   Currently, only Deezy, Temple, and Davian knew what those were.  The conflict had raised yet more issues and created demands for tech he didn't really want to think about, but knew they couldn't be the only ones working on.
 

Circling back to the work with the Government aboard the Black Knight, they'd found the other platform, buried under the Antarctic ice, and as yet, inaccessible.  The appearance of the Projection was baffling, but it wasn't the first time.  This time the Projection didn't look like it had, and spoke English perfectly.   "I am Ryan Hawke, yes.  You're not the Projection I normally see.   Has something happened to cause this change?'

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Chicago - Apex, Centerpoint

 

Two years. Two years a woman and a Nova. She had put more experience, more sheer living in the last two years than she had in the previous forty. It hadn't - and wasn't - all sunshine and rainbows, of course. While she wasn't sure if she was biologically capable of regret, there were things she'd have preferred to have done differently in retrospect. Still, she wouldn't trade anything for the life she had now.

 

When Grace waved her in, Sean flew over the railing, then drifted inside the apartment, the pronounced wedge-heels of the integrated boots of her super-suit a bare inch off the floor. She took a seat on a barstool at the the small kitchen island and crossed her legs. At the offer of coffee, her nostrils flared as she inhaled, then she smiled and nodded.

"I'd love a cup, Grace. Smells like you still have some of the Tanzania Peaberry, if you don't mind parting with it."

"Not at all," Grace assured her vivacious and curvaceous teammate. "You got it for me in the first place."

With a greatly enhanced sense of taste and smell, it was almost inevitable that Sean would turn into something of a gourmand. She had become a pretty decent chef, and knew all the best places and food trucks to eat at in the Chicago and starting to expand from there. She took great delight in trying new flavours of just about anything, and often went to get them from the source, and shared them freely with friends and family.

As Grace bustled in the kitchen getting the coffee ready, Sean let her eyes - which now always radiated with their own lavender luminosity - drift towards the TV, luscious lips turning down in a faint frown as she listened to the news. The light from the TV and the overhead pot lights reflected off the glossy, textured surface of her own Eufiber outfit. At the moment, it was in the form of her alternate superheroing costume. Black, instead of white, the circle in the center of her chest white instead of black, though still surrounded by the representation of a flaring accretion disk of bioluminescent reds, oranges, fuchsias, and magentas.

It had taken Sean more than a year, but she had learned how to control her regenerative abilities. She could cut her hair and trim her nails, and they'd stay that way instead of growing back in moments, or at most, a day. It let her play with her appearance some.

Currently, her nails where at their habitual almond shaped, half-inch length, though she had lacquered them black, even if their opalescent sheen still shone through. She'd shaved the sides and back of her head, but left the gleaming rose-gold hair on top more than chin-length, to slightly obscure one eye and frame one side of her exquisite face. Several studs and rings pierced each ear, she had a small nose stud, and an eyebrow ring. One ear also had a discrete earpod in it, letting Sean listen in on the city's emergency channels, in case she was needed somewhere specific.

It didn't make Centerpoint any less glamorous or sensual, but it did make Sean seem somewhat younger than her already youthful features suggested, while also lending her an edge and fierceness.

"I don't have the military tradition you do in my family," Sean said, nodding her thanks as Grace handed her. She grinned, deeply inhaling the delicious aroma. On the other side of the island, Grace was privately glad Sean had left her eufiber as a full bodysuit, instead of having an open boob window where the representation of the black/white hole was - which she did, sometimes - revealing the inner slopes of her magnificent breasts and that Konami was at her parents. He was starting to get to that age...

"A friend who did a single tour, than became a police officer. And my grandpa on my dad's side, but he died a few months before I was born. Don't know much, other than he was a bike messenger. Dangerous job. But if you go, Grace, you won't have to go alone. Just know, if we get involved, things are going to escalate over there, no matter how careful or direct we are."

"I know," Grace admitted, and both women sighed. Sean took a sip of her coffee and savoured it. "What about Brigit?"

"Well, if we both go, someone has to keep on eye on Chicago," Sean murmured wryly. "When the cats are away, the mice will play and all that. But honestly, I don't know."

Brigit's dedication to her home town was unrelenting and uncompromising. Sean admired her for that, loved her for it, but sometimes, couldn't help but resent her a bit for it too. She'd waken up alone in their bed more than once. Been stood up for dinner, whether at a restaurant or one she had prepared herself, because Chicago needed Dauntless for one reason or another at that exact moment. Sean had no problem sharing Brigit with Chicago, it was just, sometimes, it made her feel like the 'other woman' in their relationship.

Which really wasn't fair. To Brigit. Since Sean was the one who slept with other people during their relationship. She wasn't precisely blatant about it, but she made only a token effort to be discrete about it, but Brigit never seemed to notice, despite how sharp her senses were. She could claim it didn't have the same emotional connection, it was just sex - and she really liked sex - but it was still faithlessness on her part, while Brigit's faith was unwavering. It was just Chicago first, and Sean second, or at least, that was how if felt to Sean.

And the really scary part of it all, this was easily her longest, real romantic relationship in her life, dysfunctional as it may have been. Almost every day, she wanted to tell Brigit they had to talk, and almost every day, Sean put it off. She sighed again and gave her head a small shake, then nodded at the TV.

"The Canadian military mostly only gets involved in peacekeeping missions nowadays. But back in WWI, we were rather notoriously vicious. Only learned this on my own, not in high school history, but back then, we didn't take prisoners, and didn't accept surrender. Don't know if they'll get involved in this, beyond perhaps logistical support, but if I find out the Canadian Novas are being sent into that shitshow, I don't know if I'll be able to stay out of it. I can't help but feel some responsibility for them, since more than a few only signed on because of me."

She hadn't been deluding herself, but she still hated to admit that Garrick had been right. The hooks would have been set in, she had just hoped she could get fellow Canadian Novas a better deal, with fewer or smaller hooks to deal with if they wanted to go a different way.

"Do you really think Carson and EPIC are going to make the ask? Don't you think they have other Novas on the payroll to send in before asking the Chicago3?"

Edited by Asarasa
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"Officially? The Feds don't have *any* Novas on the payroll. The closest they have is a few repeat volunteers who show up for disaster relief and containment," Grace answered, settling down into a chair, warming her hands around her own coffee and tone betraying how much weight that lack of public information *probably* meant, "We and Karen's other sponsored teams are solidly in that group and among the higher tier, too, the kind they'd need to keep Crimson Star from slaughtering people if the Russians let him off the leash."

 

She looked out over the nightscape of Chicago, distant memories of Benin burning in the grip of another quantum-fueled monster playing in her mind's eye. Caffeine didn't do anything for her anymore, more a habit of social muscle memory then actual need, but the warmth of the beverage in her Brown University mug grounded her. 

 

She forced her gaze back to her distracting teammate, lips quirking, "They wouldn't be making Agent Carson take all these red-eye flights *just* to keep tabs on us. I haven't checked it out yet, but I'd bet that they're asking the same implicit question to the other teams to anyone with a power that could make a difference. And that's the crux of it. Escalation is going to happen. Period. I wouldn't be able to stand by and live with myself, either, letting this horror get worse when it does. There *has* to be an angle we can hit this stupid, stupid conflict to resolve it or at least blunt its impact on innocent people."

 

The blonde juggernaut exhaled, allowing a shadow of her mental exhaustion to show on her face, "It's good to know, out loud, it'll be at least the two of us over there when that line is crossed."  

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Suddenly the little girl smiled, her whole face  lit up, “I been watching you and that other girl, do yer thang, I thought was time we had a talk. My name is Temple,” she drawled.

 

Renata folded her arms and glowered at this 'Temple' girl. There was this...thing that happened to people when they got powers sometimes. It ticked her off, just...fundamentally.

 

"Okay, Temple. Here's your talk. No. The answer is no. Whatever you want, no. I only know a few things about you right now, and all of them are bad. First, you've been stalking me but you couldn't even be assed to learn the name of my partner. Second, when you decided you wanted to talk to me, instead of giving me a call or knocking on my door you broke into my house in what I can only assume is some kind of 'I saw it in a movie' attempt at a power play or something?"

 

She shook her head. "I haven't seen anything yet to make me think I have any interest in what you're here to peddle. You don't respect me, or Beckett, or my home. Get out."

 

"And if you still want to talk, once you're outside, knock on the goddamn door and we'll try this again from the top."

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Renata and Temple

 

"Hmm well the little southern girl thing is something I use to put people at ease. I should have known it wouldn't work with you. As for 'Beckett'," she said Beckett with a bit of sarcastic emphasis," I know her name, I know everything about her, just like I know everything about you."

 

Renata noticed that the accent was gone. The girl took something out of her pocket a flattened sphere that glistened and gleamed like a diamond in the sun, but the colors were of whole spectrum, pulsing, like it was alive. "We can talk later I just wanted to give you This." She held her hand out toward Renata, palm up, the thing sitting there.

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"Okay so you knew her name, just didn't want to use it. And you've been gathering info on us. None of that makes this better. And trying to 'put me at ease' with pretension? How about putting me at ease by not breaking into my home?"

 

Renata rubbed her eyes, exasperated. "You just...keep digging in deeper. I'm really trying to be patient here. Here's the deal though. I don't trust you right now. I sure as hell don't trust whatever the fuck that thing is. I don't know how you THOUGHT this was going to go, but I'm sticking with my first answer. No."

 

She pointed at the door. "I'm not taking that without some kind of explanation, and I'm not listening to an explanation from a home invader. Get out, or be gotten out. Once you're outside, you can either ring the bell or move on. I don't really care which at this point. And maybe, just maybe, use a little common fucking courtesy next time, you know?"

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Renata and Temple

 

Temple smiled again, "I'm not very good at social stuff." She set the thing on the edge of the coffee table. "It was made for you. Don't let anyone else handle it, it might kill them. When you want to talk you can contact me."

 

Before Renata could say or do anything the girl simply was gone. No flash, no sound, just gone. Even the air hadn't moved, all Renata felt was the pulse of Psionic energy where the girl had been.

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"There's not being good at social stuff, and there's not being a PERSON!" Renata called after her, frustrated...no, nearly enraged. Fucking powers. Sometimes they just fucking wrecked people. They got so used to being able to do whatever they wanted that they just couldn't stop and think things through from another person's perspective.

 

Ren was always trying to find some kind of balance between having powers and using them. Her usual compromise was to freely use her abilities to protect herself and Beckett, but to rely on more mundane skills to go on the offense. There was always this risk though...that knowing that if she'd just used her power to their fullest, the fight could have been over basically instantly with no risk to either of them. But was that okay? Was it okay to just sweep people aside as though they were nothing? Even if you could, was it okay to do it?

 

She'd had more than one conversation about the whole thing with Beckett as well. Her perspective was pretty pragmatic. If a thing was working, she said, do that thing. If it stops working, reassess. So far at least, this approach was working for Renata. She had a feeling that having Beckett around was helping as well. Alone it would be harder to stay grounded.

 

Her eyes went back to the shiny little thing Temple had left behind. The thing that, apparently, might kill anyone other than her if they touched it. And who knew what it would do if she touched it. The smart thing to do would be to get some help with this. Some kind of...scientist maybe? Analyze it, try to work out what it was. Maybe Carlisle?

 

And then let him work that much further in? Owe him a favor? The thought grated.

 

No need to be completely stupid though. Renata texted Beckett. <Hey, can you come over? Something super weird just happened I want to tell you about.>

 

There. Now she could be stupid. If Beckett showed up and she was...trapped in a stasis field, or unconscious on the floor in a coma, or something...then she'd be able to do something about it.

 

Then Ren lifted her right hand and crooked a finger at the little bauble. It raised up, rotating slowly in midair, and drifted over to her. For a long moment Renata just stared at it, wondering what the hell it was. Then she reached out and grabbed it.

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Chicago - Apex, Centerpoint
 

On 7/26/2022 at 9:11 AM, Grace &quot;Apex&quot; Williams said:

"It's good to know, out loud, it'll be at least the two of us over there when that line is crossed."  


"Never alone, Grace. And I'll see about making it three, at least." She held out her knuckles and flashed Grace a grin when her teammate tapped with her own for a fistbump. "We're too good of a team, for that."

Even if the Chicago-3 did have their own particular focus, they were a good, and indisputably powerful, team, their abilities complementing each other. There likely wasn't a more powerful team of Novas in the US, they're only limit being they couldn't be everyone at once. Grace had Konami now, and her charity work and other social commitments. If she didn't go on patrol as other with Brigit and Sean, if she was just about anywhere in Chicagoland, she was only a portal away.

Brigit was ceaseless in working the streets and skies of the city, never shirking about getting her hands dirty to help the people of Chicago, or hurt those who preyed upon them, her eyes and ears seemingly always on watch. Dauntless did try to be everywhere - in Chicago - at once. She and Sean worked particularly well together, and it wasn't just because they were intimate. Both able to fly at jet-fighter - or better - speeds, they could maneuver expertly and swiftly in tandem through the city, and since day of the Black Hole Sun, they had learned how to blend their use of their respective energetic and gravitic powers to remarkable effect.

Still, nowadays, Sean went on patrol more for Brigit's benefit than for Chicago's, and maybe her own. Sometimes, Brigit was so focused on Chicago, Sean wondered if she'd forget about her if she didn't go on patrol, with or without her. She was more proud of the work she'd done, with NovaStorm, designing and building new Social Housing, with infrastructure and organisation developed from some European models. Places that could be real homes for someone or family, that they would be proud to stay in and that would be well maintained and updated, without ending up privatized and gentrified.

It wasn't as straightforward as smacking down a blatant criminal, but Sean could admit she'd taken delight in persuading and schmoozing the City Council and State Legislature to her way of thinking and getting the funds, lands,  and permits and whatall to get the project underway. She even managed to get some of the new islands of the Chicago Archipelago for the Public Housing Project. It hadn't solved everything of course, shelters were still full, but it had definitely eased the strain. Still, to Sean, it felt like it had done more to help the homeless and downtrodden than all the patrolling and crimefighting she'd done.

It was also why Brigit hadn't wanted her to with her to do a round of the Shelters. To get into the new Social Housing, some slots were earned through certain means-testing, some through specific metrics, and others through lottery if they were eligible. There was more in the pipeline to be constructed, but currently, the waitlist was already long, and getting longer. But Sean Cassidy could pull strings. And she had. And if she didn't regret it, she could admit to herself that it had caused some problems later on.

"It's been two years, or near enough, but I - and Brigit - haven't had experience quite like you had in Benin." Over time, Grace had spoken about some of what had happened over there, and Sean had read what she could about it. "We'll have to go over strategy on how to deal with someone like Crimson Star, and whoever else Putin has we don't know about, in a urban setting, to keep the collateral damage down. If we go, along with whoever else ends up going. We don't need friendly fire with how destructive our capabilities can be."

She didn't like it, but Persons of Mass Destruction was apt.

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Deezy and Ix

 

The Alien image looked around at the bulkheads, doors, and walls before looking back at Deezy, “We are not a product of the vessel you occupy. We are a simulacra projected from a distant location. You may refer to us as Ix.”

 

It glided toward the crewmen and gave what Dezzy though was its best impression of a smile to them, Dezzy thought it didn’t help, just made the alien look more like a walking shark.

 

“There is no need to fear, we mean you no harm.” This last statement the simulacra said was addressed  to the workers who continue to stare in horror. “Please continue your operation. I find it fascinating.”

 

Ryan and Cu

 

“Yes. We are Cu. It was decided to make contact directly. As you and the one called Deezy are abnormalities among your persons on the monitor vessel it was decided to address ourselves to you.”

 

The image glided around the compartment running its seven fingered hand over the instrumentation as if it were actually touching it. “Fascinating.”

 

It turned back to Ryan. Looked him over head to toe, appraising, “You are alone. Why?”

 

 

Historical Interlude

 

The Storm changed so many things but destruction aside the most obvious was the coming of the Novas.

They became the face of the Storm, the actions, during the storm, of brave men and women, transformed and risking their own live using powers they didn’t understand, to combat raging monsters and natural disasters.

They are what ninety-nine percent of people think of when Stormers come up.

 

The true origins of the Nova and the much less discussed Psion is known to very few at this time. But the Novas are there, in your face on your feeds and other social media, and like everything else in the world they needed to be quantified.

It took two years and the consultation of hundreds of scientist and doctors but In November of 2021 the World Health organization at the behest of the United nations released the follow classification table.

 

Novas are classified by the types (Mega-Attributes, Mega-Edges, Q-Powers) of Ability a given  Nova exhibits. They are also Officially called Enhanced- Humans. Nova is a popular Term

Classification uses  the Greek Alphabet

(use of the Greek alphabet is a holdover from an early attempt to call powerful enhanced humans Titans, a term which gained little support and was rendered moot by the medias use of Nova)

Omega = Multiple High-Level abilities with Mega Attributes and Edges (Q5+)

Alpha = Multiple mid-level and one or two High level abilities + mega-attributes and edges (Q4)

Beta = Multiple low-level abilities and/or one or more mid-level abilities + Mega Atts & Edges (Q-3)

Gamma = one or two low powered abilities + mega-attributes, and/or + Mega Edges (Q-2)

Delta = Mega-attributes only  (Q-1)

 

Estimated Nova Population (% only) by Classification

Alpha - .01 % of Total Nova Pop.

Beta - .025% of Total Nova Pop.

Gamma - .0425% of Total Nova Pop.

Delta – 99.92% of Total Nova Pop.

Omega - .001% of Total Nova Pop.

Margin of error +/- 3%

 

Psions were not included in the WHO release and there is no record of any surveys or statistical research being done on that type of enhanced at the time.

 

 

 

Renata and Beckett

The bauble had pulsed when Ren’s spectral fingers had brushed and lifted it, but the pulse had been slight only noticeable because Ren had been watching closely. When she touched it with her real fingers, flesh met…substance, the pulse was all encompassing.

 

It was alive! No, not really alive not in the sense they teach in Biology, but a device semi-organic artificial, imbued with a pseudo-life which was eerily similar to her own. It did nothing to her, but it could, it wanted to.

 

It spoke to Ren, not verbally, not even as thought, but as knowing. It was hope, promise, and it was burden it showed her all that she could be. It opened for a brief instant the paths into her mind that she had not even dreamed of. It invited her to walk those paths.

 

Beckett knocked  and after a minute when Ren didn’t answer the door, she let herself in. She had finally excepted the key after balking at sharing the house with her friend, her best friend, something she deep down really really had wanted to do, but had been too afraid of fucking things up with Renata, of letting her feelings show…

 

Beckett shook her head, best not to think those things this late, and entered the house and stopped frozen in the foyer. A few feet away, Renata was standing half facing away holding a miniature sun in her hand.

 

“Renata…?”

 

Grace, Sean, and Brigit

 

Grace saw the flare of quantum fire streaking toward their building. As much as she wished she could fly she was glad that she didn’t light up like a candle when she jumped. “There’s Brigit, coming home.”

 

Brigit wasn’t flying at top speed, she didn’t want to wake sleeping kids or working moms and dads, so her senses were dialed up listening watching looking for trouble as she flew leisurely home. Getting close to her building she heard Grace’s voice and tuned in to hear her and Sean. She altered her course from her apartment toward her friends and fellow teammates. She wondered why they were up so late.

 

Brigit flew up to the balcony her glow lighting the side of the building. She touched down on the porch and the fire which didn’t burn faded. “Mmm, is that the Peaberry?” She took the cup from Sean as she gave her girlfriend a quick kiss, then took a drink. “Oh my that is good.” She passed the cup back to Sean.

 

“So, you guys are up late. Something going on?” Brigit noticed the serious look on Grace’s face. She looked back and forth between the two super women.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chicago - Grace, Sean, and Brigit

 

"Who has time to sleep?" the blonde juggernaut offered to the third member of their trio, trying to ease into what will obviously be a less then easy conversation, even without the drama of the other two's relationship. Gaining Konami had curtailed any of her own romantic ambitions, and privately she was glad of it. One less problem to deal with.

 

She didn't let her bad joke settle before continuing, "Agent Carson came to see me today. He did a lot of talking about the situation in Ukraine, and most importantly, if we'd be willing to help over there if they needed us, counterbalance the Novas that Putin might have in his back pocket. And... I'd have trouble saying no if our soldiers were being sent into harm's way against a quantum threat. I triggered in the middle of just that kind of fight, and it takes a nova level threat to reliably end a nova level threat."

 

Grace glanced at Sean, waited a heartbeat for a subtle nod of agreement, and continued, "Sean feels the same. The question is... If you'd come, too, and how we do it smart enough to ultimately stifle the conflict rather than explode it."  

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Chicago - Grace, Sean, and Brigit

 

Brigit shot a glance at Sean, then back to Grace. "Carson asked us to go over there to fight?  I thought... that's not our buisiness over there and we have more than enough things to fix over here."

 

Again she gives her girlfriend another questioning look with a slight shrug she hopes Grace misses.

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Ryan's eyes narrowed for a moment, his brain working through a multitude of ways to interpret that question, and he chose to state the obvious. "Well Cu, I was simply relaxing and reading a good book."   He held up the book, a classic, The Lord of the Rings.   "I've been working alot lately, trying to do everything I can, but even someone like me needs to stop for a moment, and relax."
 

Ryan had watched as Cu moved around, and noddded.  "Is there something I can help you with?"   This was new, to be sure, but Ryan was determined to remain calm until there was a real need not to be.
 

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Chicago - Grace, Sean, and Brigit

At Grace's comment about when to sleep and Brigit worrying that Chicago still needing things to be fixed, Sean refrained from rolling her eyes in exasperation. Chicago, the World, would never be 'fixed.' It was a process and all they could work towards was making tomorrow better than yesterday.

Sean gave Grace a glance, her eyes flicking towards the coffee press. When Grace answered with a gracious nod, Sean stood up and guided Brigit to her vacated stool at the kitchen island, hands on her deliciously broad shoulders, giving them a delightful squeeze that didn't indent the dense, superhuman muscle an millimeter. Then she sashayed around the island and began preparing her girlfriend her own cup of coffee, just the way she liked it.

"I'll pick up more of the Peaberry on my next coffee run. And there is other one I've been wanting to try..."

Two years, and it was still incongruous watching a woman who looked like she had just stepped out of a page from a comic book - with the skin-tight costume, near impossible figure and glamorous colouring - doing something so mundane and domestic as making coffee. Sean set the steaming mug in front of Brigit then pulled out another stool with a glance and a casual manipulation of gravity and sat down at an angle to face Brigit and Grace both.

"Ladies, you've got to learn to relax," Sean told them, not for the first time. "It doesn't matter if we make the city, the world, a better place, if we don't indulge ourselves a little. Take time for yourselves to enjoy what we've accomplished."

She had, without a shred of regret. She'd found a new joy in architecture now that it wasn't a mere job to pay the bills, designing for the Chicago Improved Public Housing Plan and her own dream house on her own island, one of the bigger ones of the Chicago Archipelago, North-East of Montrose Beach. It wasn't a palatial mansion by any means, but certainly big enough for her, or a potential family. With the help of NovaStorm and Deezy, it had the best in passive and active technologies, used some literal miracle materials courtesy of Deezy, and it had come out just as she'd envisioned, definitely influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright's organic architecture, but with some modern flourishes. It should be able to weather just about anything Lake Michigan could throw at it and more besides.

Getting back into architecture, she'd gotten back to artwork as well, mostly sketches and inks. She had made a reimagining of the Original Star Wars poster, with Brigit as Luke and herself as Leia, with the skyline of Chicago and the Black Hole Sun behind them. She'd given the original to Brigit for her birthday - it hung on the bedroom wall of her apartment. She'd also drawn a series called The Spirit of Chicago, with a vintage-retro aesthetic, focusing on Brigit mainly, but the rest of the Chicago-3, and scenes inspired from the history and mythology of Chicagoland.

She'd grown up listening to her dad play guitar, just a mediocre amateur. She loved the sound of acoustic guitar and had always promised herself she'd learn to play one day. That day had finally come. Even better, she now actually had a voice capable of carrying a tune and wasn't embarrassed to let others hear her sing. She had a lot of raw talent now and had even taken lessons.

She'd learned to cook, and bake, and was a more than reasonable chef. There was so much to life, so much she had let pass her by just existing doing a job she'd loss all passion for. She wasn't going to do that anymore and she hadn't.

"Nothing is certain yet, guys.  Carson is just putting out feelers, so far. And Bri, hon, if necessary, Chicago can survive without us for a week. This isn't going to be trench warfare. If things in Ukraine last that long once more novas get involved, it'll turn into a problem for way more than just the Ukraine. It could very well end up being a problem for Chicago - and more - and the best way to deal with it will be over there. If Russia gets it way, it'll just encourage them to take more, and then certain other countries might get the same idea."

Sean sighed, finished the dregs of her coffee, then idly spun the empty mug, round and round. "Honestly, I'd prefer we weren't involved. Power draws power, economic, political, military, whatever. But we might be some of the only ones who can stop this before it expands out of control, if this Crimson Star is a powerful as rumour suggests, if he's real, or God forbid, Putin has another, others, nobody knows about, hiding in reserve. But if we have to fight, better we don't have to do it here."

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Chicago - Grace, Sean, and Brigit

 

Grace was wearing a lot of hats these days, and only the fact she didn't need to sleep allowed her to do any of them justice.

 

Mom. Taking care of another human being and showing them how to get by the world was a tough job, and there were absolutely no guides on raising orphan preteen nova refugees at all. Grace knew. She had looked. So she had fallen back on the oldest school of 'ask your parents for help and try to not do everything you saw them as doing wrong. It was working, she hoped. Konami seemed happy at his school, and she made a point to be at the apartment to greet him after his school let out even if she couldn't pick him up. Be involved in what PTA meetings, the youngest by far save for a few siblings suddenly promoted to guardians. It was an open secret whose child he was, so she'd put the quiet word out via Tommy exactly how many craters the Chicago 3 would leave in the wake of his cohorts doing anything unpleasant to Konami. 

 

Businesswoman. Chicago Three was its own ever mutating can of worms, and good as Karen was, she had other Nova teams to represent, take care of. Every patrol, every PR event, every charity dinner, needed work, paperwork, and more work to go off smoothly. It grounded her, college classes and implicit childhood tutoring at the Williams' mansion tuning her still mostly-human mind in human scale tasks to human scale problem. 

 

Nova. Being 'Apex' was massively a case of not-using her gifts and learning how to use a sledgehammer to swat flies and thread needles. Training like she wanted to be able to fight if push came to shove. And, God help her, demonstrating as succinctly and clearly as possible that she was every bit as unstoppable as she'd been as a member of the 'Benin Triumvirate' during the Storm. It made the next idiot pushing Brigit and Sean on their patrols, few in number as anyone capable of that miracle was, think twice, hesitate to act out. And heartbeats of hesitation would be enough.

 

All three hats had been niggling at her, a mental toothache she couldn't quite fix, and with Konami not in the apartment to prod her to go to bed, sleep had been scratched out of her schedule. 

 

"Sorry to overstate the immediacy of Agent Carson's request, but it's coming, and I've been wargaming the 'how to fight' question in my head so long that 'if' shifted to 'when' soon as Petro Bagan was pushed too far to sit on the sideline while his country burned," Grace apologized with a grim smile, "I don't know if I could have stayed out of it long as he did in the same situation, to be honest. And if our enlisted people get called in to intervene, could you stand by? The monsters spawned by the Storm showed us how bad quantum vs normal gets quickly."

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Brigit cut her gaze from Sean to Grace as something inside hardened.

 

"It is not any of our business. We go over there with troops or Novas and we are going to war with Russia. Doesn't any one recall the cold war? Well this would be world war three... with nukes and Novas.

 

And someone needs to make damn sure the government understands that."

 

The sudden anger in Brigit's attitude was surprising.

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Chicago - Grace, Sean, and Brigit

Sean leaned over and reached out a hand, fingertips gliding over Brigit's thick forearm. She couldn't see quantum forces the way Brigit could, but she was more than passing familiar with her girlfriend. She could feel the immense strength and energetic potential coiled under the flesh. In a moment, Brigit's aura would be visible to Sean and Grace, both. Grace had gone almost inhumanly still, quiet and poised, expression so smooth and blank, it could easily be mistaken for being emotionless, if you didn't know her.

"Bri, they know," Sean said sympathetically, but her lips were pressed in a firm line. "They all know. That's why when Russia stomped into Crimea, nobody really did anything. It's why with Ukraine, no one has done more than sanctions and logistical support. Yes, the escalation could go as bad as... well..." Sean shrugged and smiled sadly. "It's not our business. Yet."

Sean glanced over at Grace, her luminous lavender eyes hard. "I didn't join the military in Canada. And I didn't join it here. I really don't want to fight in a war. And if the warfare stays reasonably conventional, I'll stay out of it. I'm not going over there to crush soldiers who probably don't even want to be there. If Russia only commits Delta, maybe Gamma, tier EPs, I'll still say we stay out of it. But if Putin sends in an Alpha or Omega class threat..."

Sean frowned, crossing her arms below her breasts, then sighed. "You know what they call us in certain circles. Persons of Mass Destruction. They aren't wrong."

Grace and Brigit knew Sean wasn't fond of the term. To take the sting out of it, she'd taken to redefining PMD as Persons of Mass Distraction. She sold a graphic tee with the new definition, and it was the name of her calendar.

"If a Russian Nova of Alpha or Omega class takes the field, that's the equivalent of using a nuke. " Sean shook her head, then turned her gaze back on Brigit, interlacing their fingers. "How much are you willing to let Putin take? Ukraine? Romania? Poland and Finland? Germany, France? Europe? Or do we stay out of the fight until a Nov-al Pearl Habour happens? If we do go over there, it won't be to fight the war. At least, I'm not. It will be to counter and disable threats the conventional military can't. To counter an Omega Class Nova, it'll take at least an Omega Class Nova. They aren't exactly growing on trees. We're three of them. And hopefully, it will disabuse other suspect nations of trying the same tactic."

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  • 2 weeks later...

"I can live with that compromise if you can, Brigit," Grace answered, inhaling and closing her eyes to marshal the anger that had been so so close to sparking something unfortunate the blonde juggernaut probably couldn't have walked back. The flicker of her memories of Benin danced behind her mind's eyes, exploding like flocks of Enchidna's flocks of manhunting, razor-feathered birds. 'Survivors' that exhaled deadly toxins with every breath and driven to seek out other humans. Livestock that exploded into goopy acidic death under the corruption of a quantum viral cocktail. The sheer panic and helplessness, the heartbreaking courage of defenders rendered moot against forces outside their scale. The ticking clock of Enchidna's advance on the coast that brought three newly-triggered novas together into an adhoc team that barely barely barely, paper thinly, managed to isolate and force the heart of the swarm into the open where Contess could outthink its hoard, Apex could kill its borrowed body, and Legend blast its exposed essence to dust.   

 

Sean had put it right when she had said that she and Brigit had been spared a formative Stormer experience like hers. God willing, every Nova to trigger from now on would. 

 

A small dark part of her, watching the news from Ukraine now that Novas had, inevitably, been drawn into the fray, wanted to go over there *just* to make it terrible, *just* to show the Powers That Be, the callous old men Williams put into office and could be themselves, exactly how bad state sponsored Nova soldiers would be in the flesh outside of their theoretical wargames. Just to make sure Konami would never be demanded to make that kind of call with his gifts. Become an Enchinda herself to prevent anyone else from doing the same.

 

Eyes opening with her exhale, Grace never took her gray-eyed gaze off Brigit's, waiting for an answer.

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Chicago - Grace, Sean, and Brigit

 

On 8/12/2022 at 8:29 AM, Sean Cassidy said:

"How much are you willing to let Putin take? Ukraine? Romania? Poland and Finland? Germany, France? Europe? Or do we stay out of the fight until a Nov-al Pearl Habour happens? If we do go over there, it won't be to fight the war. At least, I'm not. It will be to counter and disable threats the conventional military can't. To counter an Omega Class Nova, it'll take at least an Omega Class Nova. They aren't exactly growing on trees. We're three of them. And hopefully, it will disabuse other suspect nations of trying the same tactic."

 

 

On 8/20/2022 at 2:46 PM, Grace &quot;Apex&quot; Williams said:

"I can live with that compromise if you can, Brigit," Grace answered,

 

Brigit didn't hear what Grace said, as if she wasn’t even there, she just stared wide eyed at Sean, “How much am I willing to let Putin … How the fuck much was the rest of the world willing to let him take?  They let him have Crimea, why not Ukraine?

 

Our government did nothing but pour weapons onto this fire, they did nothing to stop it, nothing. And now that enhanced are getting involved it’s all,  well  now we need to send some enhanced over there, but lowkey just volunteers you know.

 

They said they wouldn’t weaponize us yet here they are doing just that.

 

Well fuck them! There are a quarter of a million homeless jobless refugees from the Storm who are living here in my city, in shelters and on the streets.

 

And those islands where we were going to build homes for them, what has happened? Environmentalists have stopped construction because of environmental impact because frogs might not like having their habitat disturbed. For every empty building Grace gets approved for conversion to low-cost housing, ten more empty buildings are tied up in bureaucracy.

 

Those people out there have no homes, no jobs, no life. And now you want to go to war”

 

Brigit’s hands had curled into fists, energy crackling around them and her eyes burned with Quantum fire. “You want to put an end to this then let’s do it.  If that’s what you want? We have the power there is nothing they could do to stop us; we could end this war in a minute if we wanted too. But then when it was just normal people dying and doing the killing, we didn’t want too. Did we?”

 

Aboard the Black Knight

 

Ryan and Cu

Cu glanced around, “This vessel is not the control center. We stopped receiving data millions of your years ago but since the Dryn had departed we did not follow up. But now this vessel has sent a distress and then the Scryers saw a Dryn Message beamed in the direction of their old home. It was decided to make a direct observation.

 

We were sent to observe and once we arrived within range we projected, to, as you say, get the lay of the land.  An here, we have found you.”  Cu smiles and it is slightly unnerving, his smile looks like a carnivore grimacing.

 

It glances out the port. “Your world is beautiful from up here, yet it is ugly the closer you get to the surface. The Dryn did much terrible damage to your world. Such a shame. I hope it can be saved.

 

You are unique in the universe, Ryan Hawke, that much we have already substantiated. We must determine if you are evolutionary or simply a mutation.”

 

Ryan thought he heard a further continuation that was unspoken, “and how dangerous.”

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Ryan considered what the projection had just said.  He'd learned a name for the aliens that had built this platform, The Dryn, and that a distress call had been beamed into space, toward their old homeworld.  That suggested they might have a new one by now, given the amount of time involved.

"Our world is beautiful from the surface, in its own ways, as well."   he said quietly.   "You speak of the damage they did, can you expand on that? You also speak of my world potentially being saved, what threat is it under?"  He paused for a moment, and nodded.  "I apologize for so many questions, but there is so much we do not know, that clearly we need to learn."

 

He let the last comments go unanswered, simply because even though he was quite intelligent, moreso than many others, his breadth of knowledge still wasn't such that he could debate whether the Enhanced were a mutation or evolution yet.   The latter part, what was unspoken he knew to be true.  The Enhanced could certainly be dangerous, to themselves and others.  Still, he believed that they could continue to do great things hand in hand with the rest of humanity too.

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Cu and Ryan

 

Cu listened as Ryan spoke nodding in a way that, in a human, Ryan would have found condescending. But with an Alien who knows.

 

When the Human mutant was finished Cu sighed, "Yes there is much you need to learn and much we can impart. But that will have to wait until we arrive."

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Ryan couldn't help it as warning bells went off in his mind.   

The next question was obvious.  "When should we be expecting you?"

This was definitely becoming a conversation that needed to be shared.   

"Why reveal this to me?"

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