Literature: Alterien

“Yes, it’s true; you are not the only one. I take it you now know enough to make it more interesting should we fight the next time.”
Alterien: Once Was Lost

Alterien is a science fiction series by Adam R. Brown. The protagonist is a formerly amnesiac man named Oberon Navarro who discovers his true name and the reason he's apparently as strong and as fast as the average superhuman. Turns out it's because he's an experimental life form called an Altered Homo sapien; Alterien, for short. Soon after discovering who he is and what he is, Oberon sets out on a mission to ensure his new species multiplies in order to eventually replace the previous version of humanoids, Homo sapiens. Over the course of the series, Oberon faces many challenges, as he learns a great deal about what it means to be an Alterien and even rediscovers what it means to be human.

The series is very young, so far, with only two installments out (Once Was Lost and Shadows of the Past). However, what is available is well-written and thought-provoking.

This series provides examples of:

  • Action Girl - Oberon's partner, Abigail Summers, is a highly capable ISA agent. She's a former Navy SEAL who can handle herself in a fight and think her way out of a bad situation. Oberon's daughters also come to exemplify this trope in so far as getting into situations that require them to make use of their wits, martial arts acumen and, of course, their Alterien abilities. Between Kotone, Gloriana and Alice, the one who tends to get in the most violent situations is Kotone. She followed their father's footsteps and became an ISA agent for a few years. She even reported to a much older Abigail Summers, who by this time was a director.
  • Action Girlfriend - Helena Velazquez becomes this to Oberon some time after the death of her first husband. She proves to be even more badass than his former partner, Abigail.
  • Action Mom - Helena, Titania and others fit this trope throughout the series. Helena even actively assisted Oberon through some harrowing situations as the mother of four children : and even beyond the time she had two more with him.
  • Alien Abduction - Though this is only hinted at throughout much of the series, Oberon was taken by a person who may not be of this world. It even happens again after he revisits the rest of his family. However, Oberon isn't certain whether it actually happened or if it was a bizarre dream.
  • All Myths Are True - The Alteriens are the source of the myths about elves and fairies.
  • Alternate Timeline - Oberon and Theseus stumble into an alternate timeline during a joint tranz through the early 21st century with a strange artifact.
  • Amnesiac Hero - The main character, first known as John Lost, has amnesia. In his case, he has no memory of his life prior to the past seven years. During those seven years, he's been in the military and later the ISA (International Security Agency).
  • Ancient Astronauts - The Shanda'ryn are portrayed as this later on in the series.
  • Ancient Conspiracy - The Alteriens eventually form a secret society called the Community. It is actually an extension of their nation that exists in 4-dimensional space. Despite their efforts to keep their society a complete secret, at some point the Community gets mentioned throughout the latter 20th century and well into the 22nd century in the same vein as The Illuminati.
  • Arch-Enemy - Theseus serves this role for a while against Oberon, especially in the first and third books.
  • Badass Native - Oberon, a Lakota-Sioux Indian, could be considered this due to his excellent skills in martial arts and armed combat. Add to this his superhuman strength and speed and healing factor, and he's pretty badass. His former teammate, Ulysses River, a Crow Indian, is also this for the same reasons.
  • Because Destiny Says So - The Sisters of Orion tell Oberon he is meant to expand the Alterien species and lead them into a golden age.
  • Befriending the Enemy - Oberon and Helena later become friends after he rescues her children from a burning house.
  • Big Bad - Oberon and the other Alteriens have to contend with a variety of opponents over the course of the series.
  • Bio-Augmentation - Many people receive bio-augmentation in the mid-21st century world of Alterien. It is used to help the sick and to even help people replace lost limbs or failing organs. The obvious military application is used to make super soldiers like the SABE Rs.
  • Creepy Twins - The Sisters of Orion could be considered this, especially due to them projecting adult monotone voices as young children. They also fit into the tropes Creepy Child and Emotionless Girl.
  • Cyborg - Half man, half machine, the cyborgs of Alterien range from civilians to soldiers. Many civilians have robotic arms and legs they can mentally control as well as their original body parts. Grafting such technology to humans can have dangerous results, as Oberon discovered when he fought two cyborgs on two different occasions. One of them was even able to create a nullification field that caused energy to diminish. That cyborg proved to be a formidable foe.
  • Dating Catwoman - Despite their shared dark past, Oberon and Helena become friends and eventually form a romantic relationship.
  • Elemental Powers - The Alteriens and the Enhanced can absorb, convert and expel energy at very high levels. It is thought their constant absorption and cycling of energy through their bodies is what grants them a centuries-long lifespan. The Alteriens learned how to use this ability in many ways, creating a wide range of techniques.
  • Elevator School - The Nu-Age Program, founded by Oberon, Helena and Oberon's business partner, Morgan Flaye, leads to the formation of a private education system. The program, which stands for Nurturing Universal Avante-Garde for Excellence, begins with a junior high/senior high level school called Nu-Age STI (School for the Talented and Impassioned). Other schools attached to the program are constructed later.
  • Emerging from the Shadows - Theseus Spencer, after remaining completely anonymous behind the attacks Oberon and his partner, Abigail, investigate, reveals himself to the young agent. Theseus had apparently learned all he wanted and revealed his primary focus had been Oberon the whole time.
  • The Fair Folk - The Sisters of Orion and another person named Yon'ro are portayed as this when Oberon meets them during what he believes to be a dream. The Alteriens also exemplify this particular trope.
  • Flight - The Alteriens can fly using sonic or electromagnetic fields. Upon seeing Oberon float down from the sky, she asked if he had been training with Superman, who is a fictional character in their universe like he is in ours.
  • Friendly Enemy - Theseus kind of becomes this in relation to Oberon later on in the series.
  • The Greys - The scientist who kidnapped Oberon, Dr. Grey, is possibly one of these. Other people the main character meets, such as the Sisters of Orion, are hinted to be related to this as well.
  • Half-Human Hybrid - This occurs as a result of Oberon and other Alteriens mating with humans. Other hybrids, like Ara, Lyra and Li'nia, are half human, half Shanda'ryn.
  • Healing Factor - The Alteriens and Enhanced can regenerate damaged tissue and bone. Other people, such as the enhanced soldiers of SABER, the Actuals and the Red Hammers also have rapid healing.
  • Human Aliens - The Alteriens, particularly while in their concealed forms, fit this trope quite well. They look completely human, but on the inside are quite different. The primary difference is their blood, which stays blue when exposed to the air. A common myth is that blood is blue on the inside, but turns red when exposed to the air.
  • Humanoid Aliens - Pleiades of the group headed by the Sisters of Orion fits nicely here. He is based on the Nordics of UFO lore in terms of his overall appearance. In addition, he has six digits on each hand and foot rather than five.
  • Inhumanly Beautiful Race - The Alteriens are all very attractive by human standards. While beauty is subjective, most would agree the first and second groups of the First Alteriens are a collection of very fine-looking men and women. This continues on with the next generation of Alteriens Oberon creates. Many of them are blessed with their own varying degrees of natural beauty while others are closer to the opposite side of the spectrum. The candidates whose physiques lie outside the range of the Alterien shapeshifting ability are given the option of NAGA (Nano-Assisted Genetic Alteration) to make themselves into the ideals of masculine and feminine beauty. Eventually, all Alteriens reflect the many different aspects of humanoid beauty. There even comes a time when using they have to use their shapeshifting ability to look less beautiful (concealment form) in order to blend among humans.
  • Intangibility - The Alteriens can vibrate the molecules of anything they touch, allowing them to pass through it like ghosts. The only limit to this ability is it does not work on iron. When in 4-dimensional space, the Alteriens are out-of-sync with normal space-time, allowing them to pass through surface-level objects and people. The surface they walk upon is synced to the moment they left the normal flow of space-time. Though it appears they are moving through different time frames when they tranz forward or backward through time, they don't actually "move" from the second they tranzed into. The only time that changes is when they tranz themselves back into 3-dimensional space, syncing themselves with the moment they've traveled to.
  • Ivy League - Newland University serves this role throughout the series. Oberon, himself, graduated from the pretigious university located in Charleston, South Carolina.
  • I Will Find You - Oberon's elder half-sister, Sharon, stated she'd been looking for him for seven years. They finally reunite in her office after Oberon links her identity to a vision he'd had of her.
  • Kryptonite Factor - The Alteriens are vulnerable to a few things that either gets through their ability to absorb kinetic energy or cancel it out. Strangely, iron is the one metal capable of hurting them. Although they can still affect iron with electromagnetic fields, should they be stabbed with an iron blade, it would have a similar effect as any blade would have on a non-enhanced human. This means it's possible for an Alterien to be stabbed to death or even beheaded using a blade made of iron. Monomolecular blades have the same effect. Iron also negates their ability to tranz or phase through matter, thus they can be bound to normal space-time with iron chains or contained within an iron box.
    • Alteriens can cancel out their energy absorption just by touching each other. The implication of this is an Alterien can hurt another Alterien in the same way a human can hurt another human.
    • Additionally, many Alteriens, such as Oberon, have heightened empathic sensitivity to concentrations of dark psychic energy. These are areas where extreme violence took place and somehow absorbed the negative psychic energy from the people that once occupied it. Being inside such an area makes Oberon very weak to the point he loses his ability to absorb kinetic energy. Leaving the area resolves the problem, though he sometimes requires help.
  • Magical Native American - Oberon could be considered this, as he is a mixed Native American. He looks like an attractive Native American with gray eyes and dark brown hair. This trope is somewhat played down in that his abilities are science-based rather than magical. However, many humans who witness his abilities in certain time periods regard him as a magical being.
  • Mentor Archetype - The Sisters of Orion serve this function for Oberon, especially their leader, Vasja'ri.
  • Muggle Best Friend - Oberon's partner in the ISA, Abigail Summers, serves in this role throughout the series. His business partner, Dr. Morgan Flaye, later serves this role as well after Oberon leaves the ISA to start a technology company.
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation - Spencer Industries, owned by Oberon's rival, Theseus Spencer, serves in this role. However, Oberon's own company and affiliate companies ironically serve this role insofar as achieving a great objective that doesn't bode well for humanity.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability - The Alteriens (as well as the Enhanced) seem nigh invulnerable. Their bodies actually absorb the energy from impacts, friction and pressure. The energy is smoothly distributed throughout their bodies, allowing them to easily convert and or expel that energy as quickly as they absorb it.
  • One World Order - The Alteriens eventually achieve this, albeit on 4D Earth among their own people. They essentially become world rulers that are never seen even when they're right in front of you.
  • Our Elves Are Better - The Alteriens are an elvish-like race that are not only like space elves, but are possessed of abilities humans might regard as magic.
  • Our Time Travel Is Different - The Alteriens can travel through time using high-yield vibration to create short-lived wormholes that typically last for less than a second. They call the method dimensional transpositioning or tranzing and use it to effectively teleport and travel through time. They can even upshift to 4-dimensional space where time is motionless. From there, they can actually rewind and fast-forward time around them. The process of "moving time around them" can take several perceived hours, depending on how far through time they wish to travel.
  • Past-Life Memories - Oberon regains fragments of his old life after touching his family members and visiting the home they shared. He doesn't remember everything, but he ultimately remembers enough to understand how different he used to be.
  • Precognition - The Alteriens and Enhanced all have the ability to perceive future events. What they see are actually possible future events rather than what will definitely occur in the future. In this sense, one might compare this ability to subconscious probability forecasting. Oberon is the only Alterien who had this ability prior to becoming an Alterien, albeit to a lesser degree.
  • Psychic Powers - Oberon and many other people in the world of Alterien possess a wide range of psychic powers, including telepathy, energy-based telekinesis, empathy, psychometric retrocognition, precognition and hypercognition.
  • Pure Energy - The Alteriens can achieve a greater form that is composed of pure energy. However, they can only maintain this form for a range of 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Recurring Dreams - Oberon had recurring dreams of his time as Dr. Grey's captive.
  • Reveal - The Sisters of Orion reveal much to Oberon and the other Alteriens regarding the details of their design. What they discover changes them in ways they never expected.
  • The Rival - Oberon encounters another superhuman with abilities beyond his own. His name is Theseus Spencer, and he reveals himself to not only be the mastermind behind the plot Oberon was investigating; he tells him they are both of the same new species, Alteriens.
  • Same-Sex Triplets - The Sisters of Orion are identical triplets.
  • Space Elves - The Alteriens are revealed to be this after a fashion. They actually resemble the elves of legend and they even later inspire the legend of the alfar that later develops into the mythology of the elves and the Fae. Due to their superior technological advancement through the geniuses among them, including Oberon, they acquire a large fleet of space ships capable of 4th dimensional travel. Their ships essentially do what they can do, but at a much greater capacity. The Alteriens eventually build a massive society that spans several centuries across multiple planets.
  • The Spark of Genius - Oberon is a technical genius, capable of designing or redesigning any viable machine that will be capable of doing whatever he wants or needs it to do. He can also reverse engineer an existing machine through tactile interface. In other words, he can use his power of psychometry to find out how something works.
  • Stable Time Loop - Oberon learns many of this actions after viewing possible futures present situations in which the effect comes before the cause. The Sisters of Orion take his learning even further when they tell him he is to travel to the 17th century to found the Sol 3 Group. The Sol 3 Group, currently known as Sol 3 United, is the same organization that built Newland University, his Alma Mater.
  • Super Breeding Program - The Alteriens pass on their abilities and beauty to their children, who pass it on to their children and so on. Though this wanes beyond the second generation of hybrids (3/4 humans) beyond the First Alteriens, the Nano Alteriens produce generations that are all genetically full Alteriens despite occasional mixing with humans. This is because of the way Oberon made them. Eventually, the Alterien society all have people that reflect beauty in various forms. Beauty becomes so much a part of their world, they eventually diversify even further to be more beautiful than their perceived "norm". Some later Alteriens develop uncommon eye, hair and skin colors in pursuit of that future course. It is of note, however, that "normal" for Alteriens equates to people who are very beautiful to the eyes of humans. This effect also takes place with people who use NAGA (Nano-Assisted Genetic Alteration), an advanced beautification technology Oberon devolped. The consequence of using it is the changes get imprinted on the germline. This allowed people who went through NAGA to pass their artificially-created beauty on to their children. Their modified genes would be so strong, this happened even when having children with less beautiful people. The only drawback would be that the children would always favor the parent that went through the NAGA process as opposed to the other parent or a mixture of the two.
  • Super Senses - The Alteriens have impressively sharp senses that allow them to hyper-focus on the smallest visual, auditory or olfactory detail. Visually, this effect is similar to telescopic vision, but they are just able to discern the tiniest details of something several meters away.
  • Super Serum - Theseus started the Actualized Augmented Soldier Programme to produce chemically-enhanced soldiers who would rely on regular injections of a serum he developed. The super soldiers created from the program are called Actuals.
  • Super Soldier - Oberon was once part of a group of enhanced US soldiers called SABER (Strategic Adaptive Ballistics Engagement and Reconnaissance).
  • Super Strength - Alteriens tend to be very strong at a normal level. They have what is called half-ton strength, meaning they can lift half a ton with minimal effort. Lifting twice that much requires their best effort.
  • Telekinesis - The Alteriens and Enhanced possess energy-based telekinesis. This means they can affect objects and people only be expelling a form of energy that makes that movement possible. They can also turn this ability "inward", surrounding themselves in a field that enables them to achieve flight.
  • Telepathy - The Alteriens, the Enhanced and certain other people they encounter are telepaths. The Sisters of Orion are the most powerful telepaths Oberon encounters.
  • Teleporters and Transporters - The Alteriens and the Enhanced have the ability to teleport themselves and others. They actually slip through short-lived wormholes via a technique called tranzing, but the result is pretty much the same.
  • That Was Not a Dream - Oberon experiences a bizarre recurring dream in which he meets many strange new people, including the Sisters of Orion for the first time. They teach him how to use his energy manipulation ability to achieve flight and hold his ground against explosive force. However,certain things he saw during his surreal experience leaves him wondering if he was under the influence of drugs.
  • The Three Faces of Eve - The Sisters of Orion are portrayed in this way with a slight difference. They are more like the wise one, the caring one and the sexy seductress, though this does not become apparent until later in the series. Initially, they are all seemingly emotionless and pragmatic. This trope is played even straighter when it is later revealed the Sisters of Orion have a strong connection to another powerful being called Eve.
  • Time Stands Still - Time stands still for the Alteriens and other 4th dimensional beings whenever they enter 4-dimensional space. They eventually build entire cities at various points of space-time, held within a second of time while life in those places proceeds without any human being aware of their presence.
  • Time Travel - Oberon learns to traverse time with Helena.
  • Touched by Vorlons - The Shanda'ryn had a direct hand in creating the Altered Homo sapiens. In fact, it was Dr. Grey, with a lot of help from Ara, Li'nia, Lyra and Eve, who gathered those initial humans to transform them into Alteriens. Their subjects were then programmed with specific missions they were to carry out in order to ensure the new humanoid race becomes the only humanoid race in a few hundred years.
  • Transhuman - The Alteriens (Altered Homo sapiens) could be regarded as transhumans, as those of the first generation started out as ordinary humans prior to being transformed through advanced technology. The super soldiers of the world could also be regarded as transhumans.
  • Twin Telepathy - The Sisters of Orion, identical triplets, share a telepathic link to each other and are each powerful telepaths in their own right.
  • Ultimate Life Form - The Alteriens are essentially a superior version of humans with abilities far beyond anything even most enhanced humans can accomplish. Furthermore, they become 4-dimensional beings, having mastered existence in a higher spatial dimension.
  • We Used to Be Friends - Oberon goes up against an assassin who turns out to be a former teammate from his days with SABER. The former teammate is a man named Ulysses River. This trope is played down, however, when Oberon flatly states they were never friends.
  • Woman Scorned - The plot behind the second and third books of the Alterien series plays this up, though in a slightly different way from the traditional concept. In this version, Oberon has to fight off an assassin and ultimately face a powerful woman (Helena Velazquez) who blames him for the death of her best friend years earlier.
  • X-Ray Vision - The Alteriens are capable of seeing through solid objects with a visual ability that's similar to x-ray vision. Oberon calls it 3D Sight, which is the ability to perceive matter from a 4th dimensional perspective.