Excerpt from an unaired N! broadcast recorded in Kansas City, Missouri, United States, on August 30 at the University of Missouri Kansas City. Speaker is Alexi Boreanaz, PhD, professor of mathematics at UMKC. Topic of the forum was "Influence of the OpNet and Other Media on Young Novas."

AB: I don't think there is a single Nova living in Kansas City. I mean, let's face it, it's all economics. Novas demand high salaries, and there really isn't a business headquartered in K.C. that can afford to pay a Nova. And those that are located here have many branches in more desirable cities. You know, who'd want to live here if you could live in Seattle? Or Boston?

Most of us have never seen a Nova outside of N! or the OpNet. We have their action figures, posters, movies, books, music chips, you name it. There are some people who have met them, of course. My neighbor Kristopher was fortunate enough to meet the Ragnarockette and Slider back in 2006 at one of Utopia's little publicity stunts while visiting Vienna. Imagine that, meeting Jennifer Landers way back then. He didn't get her autograph or anything, much to his current chagrin I'm sure. A colleague of mine is a huge XWF fan. I mean absolutely a huge fan. His autograph collection is frankly huge; I don't think there's a major player in the game that he doesn't have an autograph of. He has pictures too, you know those kind you get when the athlete poses with you and you try your best not to look too moronic? He's got them with Superbeast and Core. Together at the same time, if you can believe that. His office is littered with them and other assorted memorabilia. I'm partial to the little bouncing head Terminatrix doll myself; there's just something not right about that particular head moving up and down like that insufferable dog in the taco commercials in the late 1990's.

I've met one Nova in my lifetime, though, when I met her, she wasn't a Nova. I was sitting on a panel of university mathematics professors held in Toronto. One of the students who attended, and she was barely seventeen at the time, was a young Canadian woman named Kathleen Miller. I honestly wish I had given her more of my attention then. It's rare enough to have a female mathematics prodigy, but I still regret not having the opportunity to speak more personably with the girl who would eventually become the Teragen's Fracture.

Not that I'm all that interested in Novas. I go out of my way to avoid teaching my students anything too related to quantum physics. Too many classes at the university devolve into the stability of science in the face of homo sapiens novus. It's difficult, exceedingly difficult in fact, to get through a single class without someone bringing up Nova X and how they have single-handedly disproved discipline Y with power Z. My colleague, the professor with the XWF fascination, teaches philosophy (and that a professor of philosophy enjoys the XWF in the overly-obsessive way that he does gives the rest of the faculty no small amount of enjoyment, and he's had to endure an untold number of jokes at his expense as a result), and that's become downright impossible. I mean, how does one argue the validity of Descartes' principles over whether or not a chair exists when a Nova can create said chair out of thin air? It's consuming the minds of our youth, and frankly, it's getting tiresome. A time existed in the history of human life when science concerned itself with what was possible to accomplish for every individual, not to define what one or two select individuals could or could not do.

No, I'm more interested in what turns someone like Kathleen Miller into Fracture. Where the transformation between relatively normal teenager to racist and supremacist happens. From the information the media gave us, she went to the Teragen mere days after her eruption, and her friends and family are saying Kathleen never displayed any sympathies towards Divis Mal's people. I can't believe the change in opinion can simply happen with eruption. Some catalyst must exist in a societal fashion to make a new Nova turn their back on the rest of us normal people. All the legions of Novas who insist they are just regular people despite what the doomsayers cry confirm that. The alternative, that all the Utopians and "normal" Novas are claiming this for their paychecks and adulation, is simply unthinkable.

Perhaps it is the adolescent mind that more readily desires to be thought of as "different" or "special." Perhaps the conspiracy theorists that hound Utopia are starting to actually work in the Teragen's favor, driving our best and our brightest to the one organization that is the symbolic reflection of Utopia's vision. Ms. Miller could have had an incredibly prestigious, and profitable, career as a paid consultant working with either the DeVries agency or any number of other Nova talent divisions. Any government or business would have loved to recruit such a young talent into their ranks, especially if the early Rashoud facility reports are correct, and Ms. Miller's aptitude for experimental mathematics, no pun intended, multiplied exponentially with her eruption. Nonetheless, she chose, just weeks before her first semester at M.I.T. was to begin, to turn her back on everything she had built and could look forward to and instead seek refuge with terrorists like Gauze, Geryon, and Matador. She has no hope of a future career in any respectable commercial or educational facility. She doesn't have the fortune that the esteemed Count Raoul Orzaiz controls to allow her a comfortable life outside of "baseline" strictures. It won't be long, considering the Teragen's reputation, before she herself is a wanted criminal. It's not inconceivable that she will end up serving a sentence in a remote prison somewhere as many of the Teragen's number are already doing.

While this choice of lifestyle might be preferable to a "normal" life were you someone like Hector Guzman, whose upbringing was difficult and whose social prospects were limited, it's, forgive the expression, illogical that someone who possessed so much potential for a healthy, productive life would willingly choose such an estranged path that will force her to life outside the law.

Certainly, the controversy over whether or not Utopia had any responsibility in the death of Jennifer Landers hasn't helped Utopia's recruiting. The media's overblown coverage and pandering to this sort of conspiracy theory has been instrumental in driving potential Novas from the Project: one only need look at the verbal evisceration of Utopian Nova paraphysican Tasmin Harver on the program Eye On… during a live OpNet broadcast, a program that is easily downloaded on any anti-Utopian OpNet site and has seen repeated airplay since its broadcast, to see why any new eruptee might shy away. Even the acclaim one might garner from being a member of the prestigious Team Tomorrow no longer holds the appeal it once did, with not only Slider's murder, but the very graphic, and again, repeatedly broadcast, death of Hiram "Slag" Goldberg at the hands of the DeVries Elite Totentanz.

Anna DeVries' agency has also suffered with the advent of Teragen attacks. Citing the rationale that DeVries is "nothing but glorified pimps" and similar claims, the Elite organization is not as beleaguered as Utopia but for a young person who wishes to be part of the "in" crowd, DeVries has come to represent the "establishment" as much as Utopia and its certainly not fashionable to be employed within it. Even employment in a non-combative capacity with an agency like DeVries is considered "whoring oneself" to anyone who finds the "I'm Mal'icious" slogan appealing.

Here in the United States, the Teragen enjoy a following that is uncommon to other regions of the world. This is perhaps due to the massive backlash against authority that became common, and more importantly, fashionable, in the 1960's and the Hippie movement and continued even into the 1990's with the advent of Generation X. Our youth is accustomed to considering anyone in authority "the establishment" or "the enemy," and certainly with the murder of John F. Kennedy back in the 60's, the combined weight of both Watergate and Vietnam, the enormous racial strife that has torn our country apart and which resulted in the deaths of Malcolm X (a figure which one can draw parallels to the current Divis Mal), Martin Luther King, Jr., and countless untold others in the South and in numerous riots in California, the young of our nation have had no true role models in positions of power. The media, once again, made targeting these events in our history a sport. Through such mediums as The History Channel, films iconizing these assassinated figures, and constant references in pop culture, the overwhelming images our youth receive of our nation is obviously ones of mistrust and resentment. They identify with anyone seen as rebellious against the historically corrupt establishment, and in a sense, who can blame them?

Ms. Miller, however, was Canadian, a country whose history is not as ripe with controversy as our own and this argument may or may not apply to her. I'm tempted to note that she was a resident of Ontario, not separatist Quebec, and I'm hoping Dr. Lionel Pinchot, a native of Vancouver, British Columbia, employed at the research agency Split Infinity and assistant to Dr. Allegra Ramsey, who of course is the suspected Terat-sympathizer Machina, will be able to shed more light on this possibility when it is his turn to speak.

In any event, the portrayal of the Teragen in popular culture, at least in the United States can only be described as positive. The success of the "Divis Mall" chain of stores is one of the most glaring examples, but anything marketed by Pantheon Productions has seen a dramatic increase in sales over the past years. The sales of the Mal and Geryon action figures are higher than those of many of the Utopian Novas.

There is also the undeniable "coolness" factor of being the antagonist. Simply put, a story worth experiencing is weighed on the strength of its villains. The line of Batman comics is one of the most successful because the rogue gallery the Dark Knight faces is an extremely complex variety of psychosis and motivation, all of which touch upon very primal instincts, making it intriguing to the reader. More precisely, you might say that the better the antagonist, the more attractive the story. When making a comparison, for example, which is considered a "cooler" character: Batman or The Joker? Professor X or Magneto? Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader?

Caestus Pax or Divis Mal?

From the perspective of a young person in today’s world, at least from an American point-of-view, this sort of an organization is highly-appealing to the ideals the youth of the country embrace. This is heightened, of course, by the attractiveness of some of its most visible members, the unearthly Divis Mal, the suave Count Raoul Orzaiz, and the mysterious Narcosis. The promise of gaining such a “divine” image must surely be alluring to the young, especially when with such an awe-inspiring beauty comes authentic power to augment it. With the words of the Null Manifesto backing up the idea that this power need not be used for the common good, in fact, even discouraging it from being used that way, the importance has been switched from the many to the one, highlighting the adolescent need to feel special and unique. Having eruption to further separate them, effectively putting them in a highly exclusive “one in a million” club, the Teragen might be considered to be the elite members of that club to young eyes.

While I understand that other nations don’t seem to have this difficulty, it’s regretful that neither Utopia, nor the United States government or other Nova agency, can offer an alternative to young Novas. The most appealing options seem to be in the entertainment industry, but for someone like Ms. Miller, who didn’t possess any talents geared towards that business either before or after eruption, it wouldn’t have held any attraction for her.

And of course, all of this is just observation and speculation. Until Ms. Miller makes a public statement about why she decided to go to the Teragen, and considering her company I don’t really expect her to, we’ll never know the truth. I personally find it regretful that such a promising mind decided to throw in with a known terrorist and supremacist organization. While I don’t have any alternatives in mind, I think we as a nation need to weigh the potential risks of having a terrorist group portrayed in such a positive light. I’m certainly not advocating censorship, but if the current trends continue, more and more young Novas in this country might follow in Kathleen Miller’s footsteps.

(The moderator, Dr. Vincent Kasparian, head of the UMKC Sociology Department rises from his seat.)

VK: Thank you, Dr. Boreanaz. The floor is now open to questions.

(Dr. Andrea Wolcott, Dept of Sociology, University of Kansas)

AW: Dr. Boreanaz, you spoke of the attractiveness of being the “villain” of a story. But in such stories, we’ll use Star Wars since you brought it up, the character of Luke Skywalker is the one most viewers will identify with. Ordinary life, trapped in doldrums, suddenly elevated to hero status and charged with an epic quest. Why do you think the possibility of being associated with Darth Vader would be more attractive than that? In many respects, Luke Skywalker can be thought of as a young Nova. Born relatively normal by all appearances and suddenly awakens into knowledge of the Force, and this power separates him, more than anyone else, from his fellow rebels.

AB: My goodness, forgive me for stepping on the toes of a Star Wars fan.

(Polite chuckle from the panel members and the audience.)

AB: You bring up a good point. I suppose I should have thought up a better analogy. In the case of Star Wars, there are clearly defined lines of good and evil. Luke is good, Vader is evil. This is never in question. The lines become blurry when comparing Novas in today’s society. The lack of “evil” Novas, while a blessing, does tend to eliminate the necessity for the traditional “hero” role.

(Dr. Yevgeny Romanov, Dept. of Psychology, University of Washington)

YR: What about Novas such as Hazzard?

AB: There are exceptions to every norm. It’s very important to note that Hazzard nominally works alone and doesn’t represent the threat of “oppression” as Vader did. We can point out the neighborhood defender Novas who take on the hero role as well, but these Novas are few compared to the rest. I’m certain some of the other members of our panel will address the lure of becoming a costumed adventurer for the newly erupted. But to continue and answer Dr. Wolcott’s question, the analogy is accurate in that the Empire would represent today’s “establishment” and the Rebel Alliance in the much smaller and more vulnerable Teragen, at least in the mind of the one seeking to oppose the current system. The lack of a “Luke Skywalker” character is demonstrated by the Teragen’s goals, which are not to protect the non-forcing populace from oppression, in the real-world this is the non-erupted, and so a symbolic character such as that isn’t needed. A similar character, from the Teragen point-of-view, would be one born into the establishment who comes to believe the Rebel Alliance was only using them and depriving them of their freedom. But since before, there are no clearly defined lines of good and evil in the real world, that example is going to get me in a lot of trouble if I elaborate any further.

AW: You’re saying that, at least in the mind of America’s young, the Teragen isn’t evil.

AR: That’s exceedingly obvious, isn’t it? I’m not saying that every adolescent believes the Teragen are in the right, but the parallels between the Teragen’s philosophies and the quest of your Rebel Alliance are there for anyone wishing to use them in order to justify their position. We can’t forget that in Star Wars that the Empire was the established and lawful government, albeit corrupt, and that the Rebel Alliance were by definition criminals. Again, I have to state that this is the way it can be perceived in the media, not necessarily the way it actually is.

VK: Any other questions?

(Dr. Jana Hackathorn, Dept. of Intercultural Studies, William Jewell College)

JH: I get the impression you believe that when considering the options available in today’s world, a young Nova will look at the Teragen and consider it the best option. I just wanted to add to your statement about “whoring oneself.” It’s traditionally thought that artists, particularly musicians, at some point in their career “sell out” in order to make more money. Artists like that are denounced by their communities, especially by the “starving” ones who are still waiting for a break and insisting they create their works for the art of it, or for their audiences, not for money. I think one of the analogies that may apply to your argument, if it is correct, Dr. Boreanaz, is that the much more financially burdened Teragen, and their supposed struggle, could be seen as the starving artists of the Nova community, those that forgo the promised six to seven figure salary of the average Nova in order to remain true to their “origins.”

AW: That might be accurate if the Teragen wasn’t making so money of its licensing. As he said earlier, sales of anything Teragen related has been on the rise.

JH: When comparing the Teragen to Utopia or DeVries, though, the scale is easily tipped against them.

AW: Wouldn’t it be wiser, then, to simply remain on your own instead of joining up with any organization?

JH: Certainly. But being employed for your Nova powers is still selling out. Novas still have to live, and I can’t think of too many unemployed people out there with an M-R Node. I think a better analogy for the Teragen, if their words can be believed, is that of a community of artists, working together, than a corporation.

AB: It’s possible to see them that way, yes. Particularly if you are a young Nova and don’t want to sell out.

(The space around two empty seats in the audience shimmers and ripples, wave after wave of red energy beginning to coruscate into the air. Murmurs and shouts begin, most of the audience nearby moving away from the disturbance. Soon two women are sitting in the previously empty seats, surrounded in the still present red energy waves. The first, identified by her aberrations, is the Terat Ashnod. The second, identified after some difficulty by N! reporter Zach Bronstein, is suspected Teragen sympathizer Elizabeth. Both of them rise from their seats, the halo of energy surrounding them both.)

A: I must say this has been most entertaining. Most entertaining, indeed. Dr. Boreanaz, I had no idea that you had never actually been in the company of an erupted Nova before. Perhaps it is appropriate that we are the first ones to grace your presence. What do you think? Be honest, please. This is, after all, related to your dissertation.

(Dr. Boreanaz remains silent.)

A: Nothing to say, then? Literally speechless?

(The audience begins shifting nervously toward the exits)

E: Where are you going?

(Everything pauses, and all present in the room slowly turn their heads to Elizabeth.)

E: It’s all right. The discussion can continue as soon as you’re seated.

(Slowly, everyone returns to their seats.)

A: Thank you. Now, if everyone is comfortable, we can begin. You all are considered highly-educated members of your species: academics, professors, mentors, scientists, and educators. Some might even be tempted enough to consider you trailblazers. You’ve dedicated a significant portion of your life to learning, and too, to sharing the knowledge you have acquired. For that reason, among others, I have selected you to hear these words. I hope that you may pass them to others, both baseline and Nova. You see, despite the efforts of numerous baseline scientists and Nova paraphysicians, there are many on both sides of the genetic spectrum that insist that there is no difference between Homo Sapiens Sapiens and Homo Sapiens Novus. The common declaration that Novas are simply baselines with "a few new tricks" or, as my friend here has been known to quote me as saying, "baselines with really kewl powers," is one that is upheld in alarming numbers. The quicker we eliminate this misconception the better, for it is a far more dangerous one than anyone on either side suspects. Perhaps, Dr. Boreanaz, you might also discover an answer to why your beloved Fracture made the decision she did.

We will first consider the habits of two relatively similar animals, a rattlesnake and a boa constrictor. At first glance, the two of these beings appear to be relatively the same. Both possess comparable exteriors, eye structure, body temperature, methods of propulsion, and musculature, therefore, both are classified "reptiles" and further, both are classified as "snakes." Both are carnivorous, and the preferred meal of each is live prey over carrion, therefore, both are considered predators. Both swallow the prey whole and digest it over a period of days.

We will now examine the method by which they able to kill their prey. The rattlesnake is required to affect the target with naturally occurring venom that is either sprayed onto the body of the prey, or injected into the prey's bloodstream by means of fangs. The boa constrictor, alternatively, wraps its body around the prey and effectively asphyxiates it.

This seemingly insignificant difference is vital to understanding the chasm between baseline and Nova. While the life of a rattlesnake is similar to that of the constrictor, the rattlesnake cannot understand what life is like for the constrictor, having been evolved in such a different fashion for catching prey. The perception of a rattlesnake is dependant upon the idea of affecting its prey with venom, something that the constrictor has no means of comprehending. Likewise, the rattlesnake cannot fathom the idea of crushing the prey with its body, as its body was not designed for such an attack and all instincts that allow the constrictor this methodology are non-existent in the rattlesnake.

(Ashnod turns and her gaze pans over the audience once, then a second time.)

A: I trust I have your attention now. Good. I see by your faces that it is no longer my presence or my appearance that rivets you, but what I have to say. Moving onward, we will now compare variations of the animal classified as bird: ostrich, penguin, swan, and hawk. Through difference in climate, temperature, necessity, and innate biology, each of these birds possess vastly different means of both catching prey and means of propulsion. The penguin’s body is adapted to temperatures the ostrich would find fatal. The swan would look at the bipedal speed of the ostrich and wonder why it was necessary. The hawk might find the swan’s long neck and ability to glide upon the surface of a lack as obscene. The penguin might be envious of the hawk’s ability to climb and dive through air currents, but would be thankful for the sleek design of its own form that allows it to maneuver through water.

Each of these animals is suited for a means of living that the other three would find unfavorable. Each of them has abilities the other does not possess. Biologically speaking, yes, they are birds, and we can classify them further in terms of kingdom, genus, phylum, and so on, however, aside from these very clinical divisions, what do these creatures actually have in common?

The hawk will never know the wonder of gliding through cold arctic water alongside a school of fish. The swan will never know the joy the flightless ostrich finds in a bipedal sprint. The ostrich will never know the exhilaration of diving towards the earth in hot pursuit of a mate. The penguin will never know the advantage of a long neck capable of snagging fish below while gliding on the surface above.

It's necessary for all of you to realize that none of the birds would feel particularly inadequate about the fact that they do not possess the qualities of the other, qualities that make the experience of life incomparable between them. Furthermore, and most important, it’s those qualities that make it impossible for one bird to fully grasp what life is like for the other bird.

(The red waves of energy continue to reflect off of the faces of the audience and the steel fixtures in the auditorium as she pauses.)

A: I’m going to take things in a slightly different direction now. I feel the previous two topics adequately explain the angle I'm working from, so I'm going to skip the long-winded arguments I might have presented concerning the differences between the mammalian dolphin and bat despite their sound based perceptions. I'm also going to skip the "man vs. monkey" argument that so many readers of the Null Manifesto like to throw around like it is the final say in why the two races are distinct.

However, the truth of the matter is both as scientists and philosophers the matter of sentience is where most baselines and Novas are going to draw the line. We aren't so quick to be clinical when species that are self-aware and capable of science become involved. Baselines long have been arrogant enough to assume that any other sentient species will resemble them in some fashion, specifically in terms of science and technology or at least the ability, and more importantly the desire to acquire them.

There is considerable evidence in both the Nova and baseline scientific communities that indicate that dolphins are a sentient species. Certain variations of whales and primates also fall into this area. I'm not going to declare them as sentient or non-sentient myself. However, the resistance to the idea that these species are self-aware mostly stems from the belief that any sentient species will develop sciences, and lacking any visible evidence of this in any of the aforementioned examples, these species tend to be historically dismissed as "lesser" animals by the baseline community. (The Nova scientific community, as far as I understand, tends to lean this way as well, so it is not my intention to exempt us from this point-of-view)

The other consideration is a translatable means of communication. Many expect this to be mathematics as it is a way of defining one's environment, so naturally a sentient species will develop it. The science of mathematics aside, at this time neither baseline nor Nova scientist has developed a machine capable of cataloging and translating the high-pitched song that serves as the audio-portion of dolphin speech. Until we do, it's unlikely dolphins will gain any acceptance as anything more than an "above-average intelligence animal."

Were dolphins to suddenly appear tomorrow sporting some manner of weaponry created by marine science for the purpose of sinking fishing vessels, or, were they able to sit up and speak any number of our tongues, I think we wouldn't be so quick to cling to these ideas. (The fact that some Novas are capable of communicating with these creatures on both a verbal and mental level is something I will cover later.)

How does this apply to the differences between Nova and baseline? Firstly, I will state that there are broad generalizations about all Novas that we can assume at this point. The first is that Novas heal quicker than baselines. They are also more resilient to injury.

Some of us heal quicker than others. I've watched my daughter spontaneously regenerate wounds that would have left three baselines dead, but she is the exception. The general assumption that Novas heal quicker than baselines is widely-believed because it is true. Yes, there are also Novas that for some quirk of nature seem to lack this innate quality, but like my daughter's accelerated healing, these are the exceptions, and not the rule.

For those Novas who are not currently above or below this spectrum, it's documented that we are almost immune to simple disease and infection. Injuries that require months of time in the hospital for baselines to recover from necessitate barely a quarter that, if not less, for Novas. The how and why of this was covered by the Nova paraphysician Tasmin Harver in a live demonstration with Detroit's Kikjack. There are even amongst the Nova community those who can regenerate the tissues of other living things. Project Utopia's Juliette "Panacea" du Chartier comes to mind here, as does Dr. Pinchot’s aforementioned employer Machina. A truly creative use of quantum in this field is possessed by Savannah "Aurifex" O'Shea, who has managed to transform her control of magnetic forces into a field of reconstructive energy that works on the cellular level.

The second is that Novas are capable of great destruction. They have no need of technological weaponry. Look no further than Team Tomorrow to demonstrate this truth. The raw power possessed by any one member of the main teams is simply god-like. Caestus Pax. Skew. Splash. The Ragnarockette. The Apollo Kid. Need I continue? In the field of the paid Elite, you have Pursuer, Totentanz, and Lotus Infinite, just to name three of the most well-known. On the Terat side, you have Geryon, Leviathan, and Divis Mal.

While it is certainly true every Nova is not a force of nature, like these particular individuals, the truth is that many of them are. Some of this is by training, others simply a factor of their eruption. Still others possess abilities that while benign in most circumstances have absolutely devastating effects upon life or the physical world when unleashed in fury.

The third is that Novas are capable of traveling extensive distances quickly. The late Slider, Dominic "Blinker" Thule, and myself: Novas capable of teleportation or opening gateways in space. This does not include those of us who use alternative means of transit. We fly on air currents, wings of feather and fire, propelled by beams of light, and carried on magnetic waves. We run at speeds that the naked baseline eye cannot perceive. We travel through shadow, mirror, earth, mountain, and electricity.

Not all of us, of course, are capable of travel in this fashion, the same as many of us are not living harbingers of mass destruction. Enough of us are no longer dependant on standard methods of transportation that these abilities are often ascribed to us as a whole.

The fourth is that Novas are capable of surviving environments that would kill baselines. I have walked on the bottom of the ocean. I have survived the vacuum of space without life-support. Bathed in volcanic lava. Danced inside a funnel-cloud as it tore it up the countryside. I can name scores of others who have had similar experiences. I'm not going to elaborate on the "bullets and blades having no effect" on the Nova body regardless of how much truth has for many of us.

(She has walked unto the stage. At this point, she is standing center, facing the audience.)

In other words, where you might wither and decay, we can flourish. What requires the use of million-dollar machinery for you can be performed with our bare hands. What might leave your flesh bleeding and your bones ground to powder is merely an annoyance to us. Where you require clumsy, slug-throwing weapons, we require only our mind.

If this sounds ominous, perhaps haughty, it is simply the truth. Many on both sides understand that we are different. It’s time to accept, and examine, the consequences of that understanding.

(She begins walking off the stage and back on the auditorium floor.)

How does this relate? It's vitally important, because baseline perception of sentience is more times than not, centered around the idea that an advanced species will have advanced technology. But the fact is that there are motivations that lead to the development of technology that do not exist in the same degrees (or at all) in Novas. The primary motivators for science and technology are warfare, medicine, and exploration. As illustrated in the four preceding sections, most of us fit into at least one, and some of us into all, of those stereotypes. Novas, as a species, do not have the need of technology that baselines do.

While we do have uses for technology, and many us have a passion for artifice and machinery, we don't require it. Nonetheless, while we continue to develop and create new devices, technology is only mimicking abilities possessed by Novas and not a single device exists that Nova abilities cannot perform equally or superior to. Technology, from the position of the Nova species, is merely a crutch to help us along until we, individually and as a species, evolve beyond it. A Nova who cannot yet fly or teleport may take a plane for transportation, but one day, given enough time to evolve, can conceivably develop a way of transportation that doesn't involve the use of a vehicle. Alternatively, technology is a luxury to us. While we might fly from Guam to France, employing the use of a plane would not tire us. A device that sufficiently mimics our abilities is powered separate of the Nova operator, thus does not drain the quantum stored within the Nova.

But the philosophical and anthropological debates this argument may bring up aside, the point remains a matter of perception. To baseline perception, if a species is intelligent but does not require or desire the use of technology to progress, one must consider how advanced that species actually is. Apes and various primates can learn sign language, yes, but by all visible evidence, ape civilization has remained mostly unchanged (minus the intervention of baseline humanity into their natural habitats) since the beginning. This argument cannot apply to Novas, however, as the use of quantum eliminates the necessity for technology, and quite possibly, given enough time for the species to evolve as a whole, eliminate the luxury of technology as well.

(A slight smirk forms on her lips as she peruses the room.)

A: My, I still have your attention…my admiration for you grows by the minute. We are here as you are, as educators. You all are my students, and as I’m sure as students, you’ll be happy to know my lecture is nearly concluded.

At this point, I’m afraid, it’s vital to elaborate on the transformative nature of these perceptions. Biologically speaking, most baseline life can expect more or less the same experience as another member of the species. The potential for baseline life can be measured within easily definable parameters; essentially, limits exist that only unique individuals are capable of surpassing. Athletic performance, length of life-span, physical endurance, and capacity to heal are within comparable limits. Accidents that wound the body beyond repair and the unfortunate defects that sometimes occur at birth aside, baseline life is viewed via five senses, with two legs and two arms, must breathe oxygen to continue life and consume proper ratios of protein, vitamins, and minerals to sustain it.

The perception of baseline life is measured within these definable parameters. Matter is viewed as static unless environmental or artificial means are used to alter its state. Flight is not obtainable unless technology is utilized. Weather is random and uncontrollable. The baseline body and mind are only capable of influencing its surroundings to an infinitesimal degree without the use of tools.

The introduction of something completely new into the normal parameters alters the perception of the individual in question. A sixth sense, in most cases, a form of clairvoyance or precognition or in rarer instances, minor telepathy or telekinesis, will radically alter the way in which a baseline must perceive his or her life. Unless one or both of the child’s parents is also a psychic, this individual will grow up completely alone, having to endure the experiences of this new sense without anyone to relate to or with whom to find comfort. It’s not possible for the parents to understand otherwise; many children end seeing psychologists or put into the care of mental health “experts” who have no more means of assisting the child than the parents did.

One has only to look at the lives these individuals tend to lead. Most of them do not live “normal” lives insofar as most baselines exist. Most of them exist on the periphery of society, living in seclusion as “fortune tellers” or “mystics,” often relying on their sixth sense as a means of income. Most of these psychics tend to become heavily involved with either religion or mysticism, and much of their perception of who they are and what the world is comes from the experience of possessing this sixth sense. Rare is the individual that exists within mainstream society that possesses such an ability, and those that do tend to do succeed by ignoring their sixth sense.

The existence of such a sense completely alters the means that individual views their world. While it may seem like simple source of information, such as a telephone or a computer, the truth remains that it is far more than that. After a while, that ability becomes just as much a part of the individual as sight or sound. It colors how he or she views their family and peers, their memories and their outlooks, and their beliefs about potential, life, and afterlife.

It’s not possible to understand what it is like for these individuals unless you also possess a similar ability. Try to imagine what the ability to see auras would be like. The photography involved gives only the barest fraction of what the experience would be like, revealing only color. The same circumstances arise when considering special effects/CGI even when a psychic is present as a technical advisor: it is merely a simulacrum and not the event itself. This conveys nothing of the insight delivered, nothing of the intuition or awareness of one’s surroundings gained. Most importantly, nothing of the dependence, much like normal baseline dependence on sight, that eventually develops on this sixth sense, nor the distinct alienation that occurs upon realizing so few in the world share this ability, which is why so many psychics tend to form their own communities and de facto societies.

Inevitably, someone will introduce the “deaf” or “blind” argument as a counter to this. Does the loss of a sense, or a limb, therefore produce a unique perception analogous to the addition of a sense? The answer is no. The loss of a sense common to all members of the species is not the same as the addition of one absent in the majority. Aside from the obvious argument that any one member of the species can become blind through accident or disease but spontaneous emergence of a sixth sense is perhaps as uncommon as quantum eruption, it’s possible to simulate the loss of a sense in an other healthy individual. It is possible to glimpse what the loss of sight would be like. It may not be possible to grasp adapting to a lifestyle in which that sense is denied, but the experience of blindness is.

Introducing quantum abilities into this mix magnifies this situation by an immeasurable amount. The ability to control molecular phenomena completely alters the perception of reality of the one who wields it. Imagine being able to transform wood into steam by simply willing it to be. Or steel into gold, or lithium into americium. The physical world suddenly takes on a very dynamic condition, a condition that a baseline, who perceives the world in much more static means, is unable to relate to. While not all Novas are capable of this degree of manipulation, others possesses analogous abilities: control of fire, water, air, plasma, temporal phenomena, spatial phenomena, weather, entropy, gravity, etc, and those that don’t still possess other abilities far beyond that of non-erupted perception. Try to imagine, for example, what life would be life if you could communicate on an intimate level with every known species of animal life, such as the aforementioned dolphin. Imagine how that would alter your perception of the world. Would it be possible to view them as food? Perhaps the feral nature of the food chain would change you, making you more predatory. Can you honestly say you can accurately comprehend exactly what evolution you would undergo as a result? Theorizing is one matter, but having honest and unbiased comprehension is entirely another.

Conversely, once you have gained this perception, it becomes part of you as assuredly as breath or heartbeat. You cannot ignore it, cannot pretend it doesn’t exist, much like the time-honored scenario about walking backstage and seeing the performers when they are not in the spotlight. See the sets as merely backdrops and not real locations. Once you understand how something works, you cannot pretend it works independent of those influences. The same occurs for a Nova. It doesn’t have to be world-altering power such as the control of molecular phenomena. Simply the ability to see into the infrared spectrum will separate a Nova from baseline, as will any number of “lesser” thought of quantum abilities. To this, I point to Project Utopia’s Geisha, who while appearing as cordial and diplomatic as any baseline, moves through social circles as easily as Pratima Basham moves through air. This isn’t even taking into account the supra-intelligent faction of Novas, such as James “Prodigy” Meehan, and the perception of reality that develops as a result of such increased logistical and creative capacity.

(She lightly leaps up onto the stage effortlessly to within arms reach of Dr. Boreanaz. Elizabeth settles into a seat on the front row.)

A: I am humored to no end, Doctor, that you believe you can postulate what Fracture was experiencing upon her eruption, and what motivated her into coming to the Teragen. We are talking about a Nova that is capable of transforming her body into a field of energy that literally destroys the spatial bonds of everything it comes into contact with. Can you imagine what that must have been like for her? Can you? As I understand it, she sat perfectly still in the ruins of her home, both her parents wounded and screaming in holy terror, afraid that any slight movement could shatter the fragile structure and bring the crushing weight of the upper floors upon them all.

Of course, she wasn’t thinking clearly enough to know that anything dropped upon her would simply disintegrate as everything else was doing. Would you like to know what she was thinking, then? This is exactly what she told the Utopian Intervention Team upon their arrival: I’m not going to Bahrain!

That is your answer, Dr. Boreanaz. Whether or not the official logs reflect this, that is what she told them, and whether or not Utopia would have taken her to the Bahrain Rashoud Facility isn’t the issue. It is that she feared that they would that is important. There’s enough conspiracy theory on the OpNet that what’s happening inside Bahrain isn’t likely to be uncovered any time soon. But the rumors are enough.

Seeing the Utopian Intervention Team walk in, Fracture’s thoughts were “I’m different than them. They will take me away and shoot me up with drugs. They will tell me I’m a threat to everyone around me.”

Do you understand, now? She knew, almost instantly, that she was different. Different enough that she would be secluded away until someone who didn’t even have an M-R Node determined that she was no longer a threat.

We are different. It's a bold and frightening step to actually accept that, you know. When our next generation comes into its own, it will be different experience for them, too. The world will always have had Novas in it. They won't have this transitional period that is causing so much dissention between our species.

(She turns and faces the audience.)

Personally, I think it’s all a matter of fear. Baseline fear is easily understood: admitting that Novas are a separate race invites all kinds of debate on the nature of evolution, divine right, manifest destiny, and simple theology. Nova fear, however, is entirely different. It’s one thing to theorize on being separate, to theorize that you are different from your mother and father and that you are living in a world entirely different from theirs, and that despite how much they love you, they can never really understand you. They have no basis to even begin comprehending what life as a Nova would be like, unless you have a Nova parent, which is a topic for a later dissertation. Accepting this changes everything. Once you accept the differences, everything changes irrevocably. It’s terrifying to be a trailblazer, to forge a path no one else has yet to walk, or to find so few walking similar paths: to understand that you are the first in a new chapter of history.

As a new life-form, Novas are in their infancy; not even a half-century has passed since their introduction en masse to the planet. Nevertheless it has changed more since March 23, 1998 than it has in any other decade span, save perhaps the theoretical meteor strike that might have eliminated the dinosaurs. It will be fascinating to see what history says of this period of time on the bicentennial anniversary of N-Day, provided both species survive to see it.

(She turns back to Dr. Boreanaz.)

That’s why Kathleen Miller became Fracture. It had nothing to do with all this “I’m Mal’icious” garbage. It has nothing to with whoring oneself. It has even less to do with being considered “cool” or the allure of being an antagonist. But I don’t expect you to understand. After all, I am a hawk, soaring far above the earth and experiencing things that you, the rattlesnake, cannot even begin to conceive of. I don’t envy you your existence any more than you should envy mine.

(Ashnod steps down from the stage, moving towards Elizabeth who rises from her seat. Elizabeth addresses the crowd.)

E: There are questions, yes?

(pause, uncomfortable shifting in the audience)

E: Would you really rather spend years wondering what if? Or theorizing an answer that would have been given if you’d but asked?

(The room is silent for some time. Dr. Yevgeny Romanov is the first to speak, albeit timidly.)

YR: Forgive me for sounding critical, but the division between species isn’t a philosophical one. By the established and accepted criteria of the scientific community, your argument doesn’t have much merit.

A: It’s all a matter of proteins and DNA and cellular structure, to you, I take it. Taking the biology of Novas: increased healing, immunity to disease, resistance to injury, and the varied abilities both common and uncommon allowed by the Mazarin-Rashoud Node, or more specifically the presence of Farahcytes in the brain and most importantly the perceptions both the biology and the abilities grant, it’s difficult to imagine why so many among both species insist on being considered equal to the other. Though the fact that Novas possess this and baselines do not should be enough to warrant more than enough evidence for a more decisive division between the two races in the scientific community.

YR: That still doesn’t support your claim.

A: My dear Dr. Romanov, your accepted criteria and standards of scientific observation were never intended or conceived for measuring a species who can manipulate the fabric of reality itself. Until recently, the very idea that a being could control quantum through any manner of biological means would have been considered absurd. You are trying to measure the purity of a substance with nothing more than a child’s protractor. Scientists to this day cannot give you a definable set of parameters for all observable phenomena, yet you’re insisting on fitting Novas into a neatly ordered set of proofs and laws that fails to contain them despite every effort to try. If you can’t explain the universe, why insist on using the same language that fails to explain it to explain the species that can manipulate it?

YR: Again, forgive me, but are you suggesting that science is the problem? That Novas merit a completely new set of criteria?

A: The term “power of the gods” has been used in reference to Novas several times in the past, and I’d hazard to speculate that if you did an OpNet search, that more time than not it was a baseline source instead of a Nova one that made the quote. Dr. Romanov, I’m not the one staring at a Gordian Knot insisting that the only method of removing it is to solve the mystery of how it was knotted in the first place. If my method doesn’t satisfy, I encourage you to discover one that does, but you will doubtlessly find your answer outside of the current conventions of thought.

(Dr. Andrea Wolcott raises her hand, to which Elizabeth nods encouragingly.)

AW: I’m curious how you would explain divergent perceptions based on technological alteration, such as progressive evolution through nanotechnology?

A: Evolution through the use of tools is no evolution at all, Dr. Wolcott. A society might progress through the use of technology, but for a species, and an individual, evolution must be attained without artificial methods. If you gain new abilities and thus new perceptions by adding machinery to yourself, all you’ve managed to do is make yourself more machinelike. You’re becoming something artificial.

AW: And what if the technology only advances the biology? It’s theorizes that one day we will be able to manipulate cellular structure with nanotech. Say for example, we use nanotechnology to fashion a true, working, and completely biological M-R Node?

A: Should you do that, Dr. Wolcott, I would first congratulate you on your ingenuity. I feel a warning about Prometheus and the consequences of his actions would be trite, but that is a bridge we will cross when you are able to perform exactly that feat. I don’t personally believe you will ever create a working and completely biological M-R node using artificial methods, myself. If this is a path you believe to be probable, and one you’d like to see happen, might I suggest instead using your supposed technology to instead alter the genetic structure of your DNA so that you instead would contain the necessary sequencing to develop a Node naturally?

Theorizing aside, if what you’re proposing one day comes to pass, then your divergent perceptions are not based upon technology any longer, but biology. The method you used to obtain that biology was artificial, but the result was not. You’re invalidating your original argument, and validating mine. You will have evolved, as much as we have, so long as you don’t remain dependant on your technology to maintain your new biology and perceptions. If you remain dependant upon it, you’ve merely made yourself a slave to a machine.

(No one else makes a move to address the Novas.)

A: That’s it? A mere two of you?

(Dr. Wendy Napier, Dr. of Abnormal Psychology, Princeton)

WN: You…your argument of perception…I’m curious why it doesn’t apply to the differences in biological sex? Male and female?

A: It does apply to it, Dr. Napier. A writer of your species by the name of Pat Califia chastised renowned gender activist Kate Borenstein for her overly-ambitious opinion that gender is entirely a social construction. Males are designed to penetrate, females to be penetrated; males to impregnate, females to be impregnated. Whatever socialization forces young baseline girls and boys into the roles they will one day occupy, much of their inherent identity and perception is going to fall back upon these very essential truths. The perception of life that a female has simply by way of menstruation is something a male will not and cannot perceive of, despite their efforts to sympathize or empathize with. Having no experience from the male perspective, I will not offer you a balancing argument, but they do exist. Despite all the feminist and masculinist doctrines, the division of the sexes exists because it is real. The differences between male and female, however, fall within Dr. Romanov’s well-established scientific criteria. It is a division that is duplicated in practically all mammalian life, as well as most other forms as well.

The same arguments can apply to why Nova and baseline are different, but I’m not going to use male/female differences as an example. As I just said, the bi-sexual division is common among many forms of life, while quantum manipulation is not. It exists thus far in a single species walking the planet, a species whom which some of its members have evolved into a truly androgynous or sexless creature, and others into sexes that are entirely unique and of themselves. Nor do I wish to widen the gap between baseline genders by falsely giving credence to the idea that gender perception alone will firmly divide baseline humanity into irreconcilable camps. Obviously, the history, most especially, the recent history of your people has proved that the two sexes can work together in relative equality.

However, part of the success of this equality is recognizing and accepting where male and female are different. For baselines and Novas to do the same, our differences must be recognizing and accepted as well. A female isn’t going to spontaneously transform its physical sex into a male, not unless said female is already erupted or is having the help of the erupted to do so.

(She turns back to Dr. Boreanaz.)

A: However, it is possible for a rattlesnake to spontaneously evolve into a hawk. The rattlesnake that spontaneously transforms into a hawk is indeed a rare creature, Dr. Boreanaz, about one in every million in fact, and it is sad that the other rattlesnakes feel it necessary, and even essential, to try and convince the new hawk that it is still just a rattlesnake, just one with wings.

(She retreats back, sitting down, and Elizabeth takes center stage.)

E: It is daunting to suspect one is different. Sadder, I think, is the awakened hawk that looks upon blossoming feathers and grasping talons of potential but finds it preferable to crawl upon its belly. This is the legacy of fear not decision.

Analogy is a clumsy tool, don’t you think? Like a map, its very nature is flawed as it tries to convey the complexities of the world yet can only hint. You must realize that even though you’ve gained insight into Fracture’s perceptions, her circumstances were unique to her. No analogy or explanation is going to convey the essence of her epiphany. Do you comprehend what eruption is, Alexi?

Eruption is epiphany.

A: We’re telling you this because only you, of all the souls residing within Kansas City, have the potential necessary to make the transformation from rattlesnake to hawk. The only latent Nova. It took us quite some time to locate you, Doctor.

E: Achievement. Academic standing. Respect. You stand atop the pinnacle of human academic achievement in the field of your choice yet the view seems less lofty than imagined. Deep within you suspected, hoped, but never allowed yourself to examine the possibilities. You’ve kept that door closed tightly for so very long. Do you want to know?

(Silence fills the room. All eyes turn towards Dr. Boreanaz. Several minutes pass before he swallows once and nods. Elizabeth’s luminous green eyes grow even brighter than before as she moves to his side. She glides behind him, placing her hands over his eyes. Elizabeth speaks softly but the Professor’s microphone picks up her words.)

E: Knock knock.

(After a single minute, she pulls her hands away and glides down to Ashnod’s side. A few of the panel rush to Dr. Boreanaz’s side. He is wide-eyed and breathing heavy, but unharmed.)

E: Possibilities, Alexi. And not all of them either. Choose and embrace life as it unfolds.

A: Just think, all of these illustrious contemporaries of yours might one day tell stories of knowing you, just as you did of Fracture earlier.

(Elizabeth smiles warmly.)

E: The dolphins enjoy playing with you but they’d rather talk about mathematics. There’s a concept… Well, they should be the ones to explain it.

(The red energy coalesces and swallows the two Novas. When it is gone, they are as well. Auditorium breaks into loud conversation. Doors now open, and people exit.)

End recording. The forum did not resume.

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