Nguyet Cam

Pronounced: Nwyit Kham

The Great Conductor

Cam was not the smartest woman in her village. At least, she wasn’t before April 18, 1968. She, like everyone else she knew in her tiny world, supported the NVA as they moved weapons and personnel south to fight the imperialists. Hers was just one more settlement on a branch of the meandering Ho Chi Minh trail. Hers was just another cluster of homes that finally got a visit from US choppers, and something worse. Something that moved faster than the eye could see, something that left men dead before they could hit the ground—some of them burned, some simply still, eyes open, their bodies unmarked.

Cam had a revolver and a head full of stories about American soldiers raping and killing. When the GIs approached on foot, she planned to keep one bullet for herself. As the first soldier, the first black man she’d ever seen, poked open the door of the house, she shrieked and charged and pulled the trigger.

She missed. She heard him swear and saw the rifle butt coming at her, and then she woke to a searing pain in her chest. Somehow, she knew not to scream. She was in a pile of bodies, the bodies of everyone she’d known. The Americans were bayonetting them and then heaping them up. She waited until she thought their backs were turned and she started scrambling out, making her way to the tree line. She collapsed halfway there and an officer was pointing a pistol at her face when everything stopped.

The thing, the blur, the killing mystery had returned and it was a woman. Floating above them, it was screaming something at them in English and Cam couldn’t move, the the man with the gun couldn’t move, none of them could. And then the men, the American GIs, their heads exploded one after another, like dropped eggs and still their bodies stood upright for a moment. Then they fell and Nguyet lay still.
As the green monster wept, Cam crept away and stared, mind blank, as Amanda Sykes gestured and the dead soldiers, the dead villagers, they all massed together and then the pile burned as bright as the sun. Still shaking with sobs, the American woman floated into the sky, escaping the scene.

Cam was alone and hurt, but she was calm. Her thoughts were clear, clearer than they’d ever been. Before Amanda was even out of sight, Cam had developed enough self-consciousness and willpower to slow the bleeding of her wound. Her consciousness was expanding, swelling with thoughts, and if her mind before had been a leaf, her mind now was a tree, spreading and sucking in the light of observation, information, knowledge. As she trudged towards the next settlement for help, she learned more than she had in her entire life previous. She spun off a tiny piece of her capacity—one leaf on the tree—and used it as a repository for the physical pain. Another leaf was given the burden of processing the emotions, and then more leaves to support it, an entire branch. The rest was analyzing, timing the fall of the blood drops as they hit the ground, as they hit her knee in mid-step, calculating the difference, watching the play of light and shadow, reading the terrain, seeing where plants grew and where they didn’t, where the soil built up and where it wore away and by the time she’d gotten help, her observations had equipped her with roughly the equivalent of Masters’ Degrees in botany, geology and classical Newtonian mechanics.
She had also realized that this new mental might was surely the result of that American creature, and that if it had been contagious to her, she might be contagious to others. So she spoke to no one, interacted with them as little as possible, but instead spent her time listening, learning, observing. She watched men take apart an engine, looked in the back of a transistor radio, stole and disassembled a pocket watch. She watched flames flicker and timed the breeze and understood fluid dynamics, she listened to husbands and wives and children and understood psychology more thoroughly that Sigmund Freud dreamed possible. She listened to that radio and learned English, learned French, and when she was ready she set out to the north.

By that time, her mind was more than one tree. It was a forest. She had heard more about the flying American, heard rumors of a boy who could make things explode and it was all making sense. She set out to find him and when she did she understood how people’s minds made their powers. She broke her self-imposed silence at last, picking carefully among the Vietcong and NVA personnel. She spoke to those she could enthrall, those she knew would, if they received the strange contagion, develop powers to serve her purposes. By the time she came into the presence of General Giap, she had no more power to release into others, and she could apply her perfect theory of mind with impunity.

Nguyet Cam would become essential to the North Vietnamese war effort, but always in the shadows, on the sidelines, operating through her perfect and magnificent proxies. For them was the glory, the honor and respect and her? Just a figure in the background, writing catchy patriotic ditties. In time she would play a unified Vietnam like the strings of a moon lute, her influence would draw in Cambodia and Laos as well, more instruments for her orchestra, though few of her subjects would know her name, guess her influence, or catch a sense of the symphony in which they were but single notes. Nguyet Cam would implement the policies known as “Progressive Harmony” in her countries and make things strange and fearsome and beautiful.

For Nguyet felt that the odds of mankind being alone in the cosmos were negligible. She was also certain that when humanity encountered its cosmic neighbors, the differences in synaptic structure and epistemological perspective would allow for no common ground. There would be no negotiation, not even understanding. There could only be the lowest common denominator: Total war.

Nguyet, for all her suffering and anger, still loved humankind. She was not willing to let humanity fall, and if the process of making it strong enough to triumph was a painful one, she could shunt that pain aside. It would be only a leaf.

Millions would have to die, as notes fade to silence, but it would forge a new humanity—a race unhindered by sentiment or cruelty or mercy or regret. A humanity curious and brave and utterly, utterly practical. A humankind like herself.

Yet, deep inside the forest of her mind, one leaf is still that frightened 15-year-old girl from the village of My Lai.

Lineage: Amanda Sykes
Power Level: Tier Two
Offspring: Mai Thi Chung, Tuyet Thi Dang, An Toán Do, Duc Van Ho, Linh Thi Li, Dinh Quang Phung, Tuan Cong Thach, Bao Verong, and one other.

Personality: Analytical, curious, calm, measured and usually quite relaxed. People who are uncomfortable in her presence are so because she has something to gain by disquieting them. More often one leaves her presence with a mildly favorable opinion, quickly forgotten unless she wants to leave a lasting impression.

She’s a passionate and enthusiastic lover. She tends to change partners every few years, usually after subtly convincing them they’re tired of her. She considers her sensual self an important part of her identity, but she’s not going to let it eclipse her plans or ambitions. If she decides it’s unwise to be attracted to someone, she stops being attracted—poof.

Values: Vietnam, Progressive Harmony, The Survival of Humanity, Absolute Control, A Long, Serious Screw

Known Powers

  • Nguyet's mind has been enhanced with Hypermind, Hypercharm, Hypercommand, and Gadgeteering.
  • She can use these enhanced abilities to dodge attacks with the Strike Was Foreseen and to see through deception with You Hold No Secrets.
  • She also is a Professional Songwriter of remarkable talent, if slightly less soul.
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