The Nova World
The nova phenomenon began quietly shortly after the millennium, with a few people developing unique and strange powers. At first it was lost in the general noise, but after several widely publicized events people took notice – the self-disintegration of Max Penman on primetime TV August 21 2001, the radioactive control demonstrated by Lane Mofetta to win the Randi Prize and especially Clare Leith flying across London in June 2002.
The nova “epidemic” peaked in 2003 when more than a hundred people worldwide gained superhuman powers. In a world where the War on Terror raged this added mystery and chaos. Many people were completely convinced that the End Was Near or that anything was possible. The media called it the “god plague” and worried/hoped that it might spread to everyone (some people committed suicide in the false belief that since everybody was becoming superhuman they could fly or handle onrushing trains). Families of erupting novas went into hiding out of fear of being affected, while crowds of enthusiasts offered themselves for “infection”. Civil chaos erupted here and there, but the main result was a profound sense of confusion and unease.
Meanwhile researchers worked feverishly to understand the phenomenon. Some early results disproved the idea that novas were genetically changed or possessed altered brains. Their powers were found to be (usually) measurable and quantifiable, although not always reliable. By late 2003 the scientific consensus was that novas and their powers were real, possible to study in a scientific way, likely of huge benefit to mankind but so far impossible to replicate. The results from the Annarumo Committee in the US recommended making nova research a national commitment, a sentiment that was echoed by most nations worldwide.
The “nova race” began as governments, NGOs, private institutions and others did their best to recruit novas for study or help. In some countries laws drafted novas, while others experienced nova drain as local talent travelled abroad for fame and money. While many novas ended up in the obscurity of national security enough remained in the limelight to fascinate mankind.
The US placed nova studies under the Department of Homeland Security (“Directorate 6”), and on July 4 2004 the US Special Powers Task Force was officially announced: a task force including novas, researchers, emergency management and the military intended to deal with terrorism, disasters and “other extraordinary threats”. The European Nova Agency (ENA) was formed in late 2004 along similar lines, and China, India, Japan and Australia followed suit. The UN has formed a Superhuman Security and Intelligence Advisory Office under the General Council.
The year is currently February 2005.
G.W. Bush was narrowly re-elected in 2004, economy still somewhat depressed but starting to look good. The US is actively trying to play world cop, something that is proving increasingly expensive and hard. The US-China situation very tense due to the “nova gap” and Indochina. Europe and the US on reasonably good terms, but still angry at US unilateralism.
The EU now includes Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Cyprus. The expansion has led to some economic problems, not to mention an enormous expansion of bureaucracy. The hottest issue is how to handle the Common Agricultural Policy and a corruption scandal involving the European road administration.
The Mid-East is as total a mess as always. The US has been forced to retain their forces in Afghanistan and Iraq (in Iraq by the expressed wish of the unpopular Iraqi government). The situation seems to constantly require more and more troops. Nova related terrorism is a serious problem in region, but baseline terrorism has reached endemic levels not just in the Israel-Palestine corner but elsewhere too. Whether Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein are dead or not remain unknown; by now they have become as immortal and often seen as Elvis.
The most risky powder keg in the world is Kashmir, where India, Pakistan and China are all quarrelling. The US and UN has desperately tried to keep the peace in the region but everybody fears that some terrorist action or other crisis will set the first true nova war in motion.
China has become increasingly expansionist. Partly this is due to the perceived lead in nova power. Especially in Indochina nova activity is monitored and China is unafraid of “protecting itself from foreign threats”.
July 2004: A nova went berserk in Phnom Penh and began to erase memories of vast numbers of people. Finally a group of Chinese novas entered the city and defeated him, apparently on request by parts of the government. The political and diplomatic fallout caused the resignation of the current government and the institution of a noticeably pro-China “interim government”. The US was furious but could do relatively little other than cut aid money.
Taiwan is increasingly worried by Chinese expansionism and demands protection from the US, since it lacks native novas. The US accuses China for industrial espionage using Novas; China strenuously denies the allegations and counters with claims that the US is using novas at listening posts in South Korea to spy on China.
The Mbabane Disaster: a failed eruption unleashed a nuclear detonation in the capital of Swaziland September 2003, killing over 40,000 people and causing fallout across South Africa and Mozambique.
In Africa several of the local conflicts have worsened due to the appearance of novas, who often fit in well in the chaos.
The US has tried to control “nova development” in rogue nations, but since eruptions are apparently random there is little that can be done. There has been much discussion about international cooperation against nova terrorism, but little has come of it. There is also increasing concerns about nova mercenaries in the African wars.
In Brazil “the Jardineiro” has been creating new crops and medical plants using nova powers. They are essentially hand-made GMOs intended to help the poor or people with special problems. Seeds and shots are spread among the poor with great success, while western environmentalist organisations warn for unforeseen effects and lobby aid organisations not to support the practice.
The finance nova Lavelle Turri from Canada has caused some serious fluctuations by his currency and stock speculations. An extremely skilled financier, he has drawn the ire of many anti-capitalist organisations and governments on the wrong end of currency plays. Turri on the other hand is using significant sums for third world education and has been donating money to the WHO. In general the views of him and other non-physical novas are much more negative than the “supermen” with physical powers.
Anti-nova violence and fear is present just about everywhere. While most people are in awe of novas some consider them a threat or “impure”, especially novas with controversial views. After several attacks it is clear that novas are not invulnerable to assassination, and many novas have their own bodyguards.
Science and Technology
Science is both in a crisis and a renaissance. The appearance of novas has upset paradigms left and right – the law of energy conservation, the standard model of particle physics, general relativity, anything is up for grabs. Novas don’t seem to fit in any way, but they definitely exist. To the public this has been an enormous embarrassment of science, which has been revealed as being as ignorant and confused as anybody else. When Lane Mofetta won the Randi Prize (after some wrangling) it seemed to disprove the sceptics, not just nova sceptics but all forms of scepticism – why discount extraordinary claims, they could be due to nova powers? Maybe all the disbelieved psychics and talents of the past were novas. And why should there be a limit to nova powers? Anything is possible.
At the same time the challenge has been an enormous stimulus for research. Scientists are doing anything to examine novas and the anomalies they represent. Everybody knows there are entire new fields ripe for the picking, and whoever manages to understand even a tiny bit of what is going on is ensured a Nobel Prize. If nova powers can be replicated tremendous advances can be made, and even the knowledge itself that the old accepted laws have loopholes is useful scientific knowledge. The deep irony is that while the public views science as having failed and look for alternative answers, scientists are considering the present as a golden age.
Due to a nova breakthrough in physics (the Hasami-Oteka effect) a method of making metastable metallic hydrogen has become possible. This has in turn enabled improved neutrino telescopes, some innovative rocket propulsion ideas and maybe a way of storing hydrogen efficiently for fuel. It also has worrying possibilities for bombs.
Nova cults are appearing everywhere: people who consider certain novas to be gods, divine messengers or just perfect idols.
In general most faiths have had less problem with novas than one might think. Most faiths have actually welcomed if their faithful developed superpowers. The problem was rather when other faiths also developed superpowers. The Catholic Church after some consideration declared that the nova phenomenon was another example of Gods infinite ability to create wonders, but that novas were responsible for their actions and sins just like other humans. Similar views have been echoed by other religious leaders. Several radical Moslem preachers have claimed that the novas are a sign that Allah is preparing the faithful for the final battle against the infidels, a view that is mirrored by some conservative Christians. However, some Christian groups identify novas with false prophets and messengers of the End Times and are very negative to them.
A recurring idea is that novas can infect, transfer or induce superpowers in humans who remain close to them. Some novas are hunted by groupies seeking to touch them or otherwise get the “blessing” from the novas. Some novas enjoy the attention and gladly help others by close physical contact – but the problem of stalkers and people convinced that they might gain more access by violent means.