Back to Aberrant and the Nova Initiative's attempts to retrieve a newly discovered nova from the centre of a warzone without using their powers... We left it with the team finding an old friend of Mark's, Omar, who agreed to assist them in return for their help in rescuing his target (the child from Hong Kong, Mina Trang with codename 'Pandora' because we don't know anything about her) from a KGB stronghold.
Omar explained the first target (the one whose name was still unknown) was likely nearer than Pandora, so (as time was ticking on the deadline) the team set off to track him down. As they left, Omar triggered a programme on the computer to burn down the building.
The Initiativemobile (mk2) took them most of the way to the suspected location. They parked up - Adam again taking the precaution of removing a fuse to reduce the risk of theft of the improvised armoured vehicle. Heading on foot, they hid from a pair of Russian soldiers on patrol and overheard their radio speak of a sighting at a nearby mall. Pouncing from the shadows, Mark took them both out with swift, silenced pistol headshots. He grabbed the radio and agreed, in Russian, to check it out.
So they went to the centre, sounds of warfare all around and nova battles in the distance. The shutter was down but had recently been manipulated, suggesting a presence within. Adam started to lift it and spotted the telltale signs of an improvised claymore... He froze, holding the door in place. Rachel sat nearby and talked to keep him calm whilst the others sought a solution: Omar and Chrissie decided to seek a way in from the roof and come at it from behind. Vents provided access and they squirmed through. It was hot and uncomfortable but within about 10 minutes they'd made their way to the other side of the door and Adam, who'd had time to study the base of the weapon, talked Chrissie through disarming it and the team could proceed.
The atmosphere was tense as they crept around the top floor of the building. Adam, with his near miss at the door, was on particularly high alert. He spotted someone on the floor below pointing a gun at the group, about to shoot. The glass balustrade would offer no protection, so he shot first... The second shot took the mannequin out. Chrissie insisted he put his gun away until he'd calmed down some more: she'd spotted signs of people on the same floor and didn't want him to shoot their target by accident.
They headed down to the floor, spotted movement in a bookshop so Adam and Chrissie moved in, guns drawn (and AK and a pistol respectively). A foot disappeared around a stack of books: Chrissie and Adam went opposite sides to follow. On spotted a huddled group at the end, Chrissie rose from a crouch and dropped the hand holding the pistol to one side - still ready to defend herself if necessary, but less threatening. As she approached, calmly, she felt joy at the closeness of the completion of their task filling her and she put her gun away as she spotted their target - the new nova who was known to be able to manipulate emotions. They had a chat, highlighting the benefits of the Nova Initiative and he agreed to join them. The others with him were happy enough for him to leave - they knew how to survive here.
The new nova was suitably impressed with the Initiativemobile (mk2). Stef phoned Benedict for the evac co-ordinates: a nearby park. Once made secure, a woman in NI uniform unrecognised by the team appeared, took the target's hand and snapped a disc for them to disappear together.
So they clambered back into the Initiativemobile (mk2), which was starting to show the hard use it had suffered on the damaged roads. Some of the improvised armour plating had fallen off, and it was dusty and marked. They pulled up in the basement of a multi-storey car park beside the entrance to the gated community that contained the house where Omar understood Pandora to be held. As they’d driven there and now they’d arrived, they discussed the plan.
“Couldn’t we just drive the Initiativemobile through the gates? It’d certainly be a surprise?” Adam looked at his vehicle with pride.
Chrissie was gutted: she’d wanted to make the insane suggestion and instead had to be the voice of reason. “They’re trained, well armed KGB operatives, and one of the doors has come off.” [Suffice to say, this exchange had the GM in hysterics: “He wants to drive you into the midst of a small army in a defended gated community, and that’s your objection?”]
They had a quick chat about either exploding the walls or launching the van from the car park into the middle of the courtyard. Chrissie was against the idea, initially, as she wasn’t sure how to ensure they’d survive the landing, but even denied access to the quantum flows that make her one of the smartest people on the planet, she is still unbelievably bright and she, Adam and Stef very quickly did the calculations. The van would be ruined, but they could survive if Adam did it right.
A few other things were needed: Adam, on Chrissie’s suggestion, built another iteration of the Initiativemobile whilst Mark, Omar and Robert made explosives. Some of these were to go around the mk2, to be propelled off once we landed to cause more chaos and cover. Others were set on the wall behind the house Pandora was in, with a triggering device. Once ready, the Initiativemobile mk3 would be parked here, rear doors open to accept the team as they raced in. In theory…
And we were off! Even Chrissie had taken an assault rifle for the ride rather than her usual reluctant pistol. The moment the van’s wheels left the car park until the moment they crashed into the paving of the courtyard was the sort of joyful exhilaration Chrissie hadn’t felt since the assassination of Yeltsin. The landing brought her back to reality - the sides of the van came away as the explosives flew off and the team all prepared to fire into the smoke. Making use of the cover it provided, they exited and ran towards the house, killing (or at least incapacitating) the KGB agents who came running out to greet them. It was the first time Chrissie has fired a gun into a living person, but they were moving too fast for her to dwell on it.
Inside, they quickly cleared the ground floor and raced up the stairs. A couple of agents threw a grenade at the team, but Adam used his gun as a bat to return it to their feet, where it exploded them and they were no longer a concern. Racing along, now, they found a panic room. It seemed obvious that Mina was within.
The team were just trying to work out how to get in when a voice from behind asked “Can I help you?” If Chrissie hadn’t had such intense training and didn’t have such a knack for languages, she wouldn’t have picked up on the other woman’s trace of a Russian accent.
Adam started talking to her, explained why they were there and that they wanted to return the girl to her parents. The woman was unimpressed, but remained perfectly calm as Adam pointed his gun at her. After he shot her, she merely smiled and flew at him with glowing hands. She swiped across his chest and left the marks of sharp claws traced in blood on his chest but left no damage. The rest of the team open their guns full-auto into her: it takes 213 bullets to (just!) take out a nova.
To demoralise the enemy, Adam arranged for her body to be tipped down the stairs, and to buy us time lit the stairs alight whilst Stef hacked the panic room keypad. The moment the door swung open, Chrissie raced in and bundled the girl into her arms. She tried to reassure her a little as they ran - Jean took the child as Chrissie took the first leap out the window. The team laid down covering fire for each other as they followed, Jean rolling to protect Mina tight in his arms. The wall ahead of them exploded and they ran, exactly as intended, into the back of the Initiativemobile (mk3). Adam started the engine and they drove off - Omar giving directions whilst Mark, using the radio they’d nicked from the Russians, fed false information about their route.
They arrived at the airport where a plane waited to whisk Omar and Mina back to her parents. The relief was short lived as Cestus Pax landed in front of them and announced the child would be coming with him. Chrissie and Adam recognised him from a charity event they’d been at before he was openly a nova. He didn’t recognise them: they’d been in their nova-forms that day. After some argument, Mina walked to Cestus, took his hand and left with him. Omar was devastated and Chrissie livid when Benedict arrived to take them home. To everyone’s surprise, Omar immediately recognised him.
Benedict teleported them back to the Hub and the new debriefing room. As they settled, their powers returned. In Chrissie’s case, this meant she grew a couple of inches, her muscles became more defined. As she settled herself into a comfortable, cross-legged position in mid-air, she opened and closed her hands to create and extinguish mini fireballs. As the others similarly relaxed back into themselves, Omar looked around in surprise. He looked to Mark, who shrugged and nodded. Chrissie took a quick look, now her connection to the quantum was restored, and recognised a flow within Omar - not a flow as came through the others, but maybe a waiting, or maybe something else. Definitely not a standard baseline appearance, anyway.