Shades of Crey:
"Team Yellow, commence with your attack,"
Dr. Marvin Linder said depressing the private communication channel
leading to the Virtual Training Environment, or VTE. The Crey scientist
leaned heavily back into his chair leaving a red pen clenched in his
teeth and stretched his muscles. His entire investigative exploratory
staff had been gathered to witness and record the end of one program
and the beginning of a new age for their research. Project Drake was
about to commence and the financial rewards and power that would be
showered on him were worth the chance for failure. Finally, he would
stop being a field scientist and receive the directorship he deserved
after being denied for years.
Linder casually tossed the pen on his
desk and pushed his thin-wired spectacles to the bridge of his hawkish
nose. He grabbed his PDA and walked across the bustling control room
to the viewing window that peered into the virtual environment. The
Crey warehouse had been converted with state of the art technologies
scavenged from the Rikti aliens and other classified sources. An elaborate
system of force shields and holographic projectors created whatever
training situation was required. The technology was not like science
fiction movies and television shows portrayed, but it was closing
in on that level of detail. It really only provided rudimentary environments
allowing the Paragon Protectors and Crey’s security forces to practice
in privacy away from the prying eyes of the public.
"What’s the status
on subject Occam’s Razar?" Linder asked glancing across the bustling
room toward his assistant.
Dr. Lisa Mist paused in her task, brushed
her dark mid cut hair from her almond shaped brown eyes, and brought
up the drake’s vitals on one of the room’s large plasma screen displays.
"Occam’s vitals look fine. Heart rate is accelerating, but that is
well within his norm. Robotic arms diagnostic is in the green and
skeletal integrity is within safe parameters. Fail-safe frequency
Dr. Linder glimpsed again into the virtual environment
and watched how Team Yellow quickly overpowered Crey security and
secured the target phantom building. The team consisted of newly patterned
Paragon Protectors who have recently graduated from group orientation
and basic team tactics.
"Security is requesting Tank support," Diane,
Security Training Coordinator, said glancing away from her terminal.
Dr. Linder continued gazing into the environment and nodded, "Keep
to the schedule of events."
"Fascinating!" Dr. Johnson exclaimed jerking
to a standing position from his terminal. He jogged the short distance
to one of the three forward placed large plasma panels where he shunted
his genetic data on subject Occam’s Razar.
Dr. Linder was watching
several power armored personnel, commonly and inaccurately referred
to as Tanks, attempt to flank the inexperienced Yellow Team. In truth,
he saw more of his reflection in the glass then he did of the engagement.
He pried himself from the view and walked over to exuberant geneticist.
"Preliminary tests are finally in," Dr. Johnson said unclipping a
pen sized laser pointer from his pocket protector.
"Yes, as I predicted,"
Linder stated flatly taking a moment to look at the various other
display panels before focusing on the one displaying Johnson’s data.
"Yes, as you predicted. The results are quite captivating; Occam’s
DNA is truly forged from humans and dragons."
"Humans and a yet, unidentifiable
species," Linder corrected.
"Well, yes, that is true." Johnson pointed
his laser emitter toward a DNA cluster and zoomed into RNA fragments.
"Regardless, the DNA appears to have an earthly origin, but it’s this
mutation cluster that excited me. It appears this cluster here is
related to a modern mutational gene."
"Doctor, I am not a geneticist,
so please without a general report in front of me please specifically
explain your assertion."
"Sorry," Johnson responded shrugging his
shoulders. "There may be a link to this foreign DNA… dragons if you
allow me to speculate, which may be the sole origin for modern day
mutations that develop into extraordinary abilities."
Dr. Linder stared
intently at the geneticist, his fingers absentmindedly stroking his
chin. He did know a little about genetics, but plasma physics was
his field. "That is a very big claim; we are all related to dragons
then? This helix is multi-stranded, even the cluster your pointing
to is not of human origin, it is doubtful such an allegation can be
made with years of research already behind us."
Johnson paused considering
his theory. "Well, I guess I am overemphasizing my initial statement,
there is still much to examine. Occam himself admitted the traits
of drakes varied from family to family; he mentioned his cousins looked
nothing like him."
"Well, get to it then, if you are right that may
change the way we look at mutants," Linder said nodding, but doubting
Upon closer examination, Johnson also was hesitant
to the details witnessed at his terminal. There were some bonding
factors to account for. Pondering the situation further, he concluded
it was more probable the dragon DNA acted like a mutation for drakes,
or half-dragon half-human origins. He still slightly believed mutants
in a handful of cases, yet to be logged and examined, might possess
the dragon gene. This would make them descendants of drakes and specifically
the explanation of their developing powers. Yes, much research was
required and he quivered with excitement.
"Dr. Linder, Mr. Hopkins
is here," one of the research facilities research interns said hanging
up the phone.
The color drained from the division leader’s face making
him look like one of Vahzilok’s walking dead. Several of the researchers,
scientists, security, and interns all looked at each other with bulged
"My god, is he coming? Is the Countess with him?" Dr. Linder
asked horrified at the news.
"No sir, the Countess is not with him,"
the intern said.
"All right people, let’s get focused," he preached.
"This is not a time to make stupid mistakes, embarrass me and start
looking for a new career."
Linder stumbled for his desk containing
his migraine medication. Mr. Hopkins was the second in charge in Crey
Industries and rarely left the side of Countess Crey. The thought
of her alone coming to witness the training terrified him. She may
technically not be the CEO, but everyone knew she ran the company.
Her temper was well known and she did not tolerate failure. He would
settle for Hopkins although that was only a marginal improvement.
His being here meant his program was going to be intensely scrutinized
from the start.
Linder chewed two pills and downed a fresh glass of
water from a decanter off the buffet table next to his desk wishing
he could chase it with a snifter of cognac. His hands trembled as
he emptied the glass when he spied David Sparrow of Crey Security
positioned at the doorway watching him intently.
"Yes, Doctor?" he replied guessing what was to come.
Occam today, correct?"
"Mr. Hopkins will be here in this
control room in about five minutes. Since Occam is present, run down
and inform the cafeteria to bring the appropriate refreshments. Stat!"
Sparrow grumbled because he foresaw the request. He had just arrived
on shift and had not personally been the one who escorted the half-breed
warrior to the training center. He had been looking forward to the
assignment, because he had watched a Discovery Channel program about
the half-dragon a mere two days ago. There were extensive interviews
with Professor Praetor and his team and some excellent computer reenactments
about Occam Razar’s life. It was a very moving piece, but he could
not dismiss the subtle underlying negative tone of Crey’s involvement
even though Crey Industries funded a good portion of the expedition.
He was looking forward to meeting the ancient warrior. Officer Sparrow
left hurriedly wondering why he left Paragon City SWAT for his current
errand boy babysitter job.
"At least Occam is wearing clothes this
time," Dr. Mist said.
Dr. Linder stared shortly at the back wall while
allowing a chuckle to relax him for a brief moment. She was right,
Occam’s Razar preferred to engage in combat naked. He wore little
clothing during his time period all those thousands of years ago and
struggled with the concept of modern day decency. He swiftly adjusted
his tie buying him the time to gather his composure before facing
his personnel in the rest of the control room.
"Is he scratching at
his uniform?" Linder asked noting Occam’s behavior from one of the
many camera angles displayed on the various flat panels spread through
"Yes," Lisa answered. "He has complained the uniforms are
irritating and uncomfortable."
"Wonderful," Linder exclaimed rubbing
the bridge of his nose and squinting. "We spend millions on developing
breathable suits that act as a second skin and he says they itch too
Dr. Mist shrugged and continued to monitor Occam Razar’s vitals.
She feigned interest for the sole purpose of currying favor with him.
Dr. Linder was here professor years ago at Paragon University. When
he finally got around to completely confiding in her, she would expose
him as the incompetent supervisor he was and she would take his position.
Dr. Linder watched three minutes pass on his watch and he might have
had more success waiting for the sun to collapse in on itself. His
migraine was not going to leave anytime soon and Officer Sparrow still
had not returned with food and drink. He watched Mr. Hopkins and his
small entourage on a routed security camera and approach within thirty
seconds of arriving when Sparrow returned with the cafeteria’s head
chef in tow.
"Sorry," Sparrow offered at the panicking supervisor.
"Yes, yes. Quickly now." Linder said attempting to help the chef arrange
the suspiciously large buffet.
Officer Sparrow caught the approach
of Hopkins at the door on one of the main monitors and quickly opened
it for the powerful figure.
Hopkins was by no means a small man. His
large frame was formed fitted by a fine tailored black Italian suit
that only enhanced his muscular stature. He towered over all present
by almost a foot and when Mr. Hopkins was introduced to Dr. Linder,
Sparrow swore his handshake was going rip the doctor’s arm off. He
also noticed the two other aides with him, Jack Crow the company’s
top elite security agent, and his director Susan Jackson, Crey’s Director
of Internal Security. Her division was the one he had desired to be
a part of, but he needed to put his time in the security forces first.
Both directors wore black suits similar in cut and design to Hopkins.
Sparrow was sure he could beat them in a fair fight, but that was
probably the illusion of meekness one got standing next to Crey’s
"Dr. Linder," Hopkins voiced boomed demanding the
attention of everyone in the room. "I am here in an observational
role only; continue with your tests as planned. With the story of
Occam’s Razar broadcast on the Discovery Channel two nights ago sponsored
by Paragon City University, the Countess has decided to capitalize
on the positive public feedback it generated. Occam will become the
leader and public figure head of the Paragon Protectors. They are
in dire need of good publicity and a unique uniform is already being
manufactured for him, as we speak."
"Yes, sir." Linder said glad to
have his hand and arm back in one piece. He doubted the truth in that
statement. Hopkins does not leave the side of the Countess to pretend
he is an observational role. "Please I took the liberty of having
our chef prepare some refreshments for you."
Dr. Linder led them to
the table and the chef unveiled the delicacies.
"Mr. Hopkins, when
I heard you were visiting us today I made your personal favorites."
Hopkins sat and nodded to his traveling companions to take a seat
across from him. Dr. Linder made a mental note that the chef was too
prepared for their arrival. Somehow, he had been informed of the VIP’s
arrival long before he himself was by the quality and specific selection
of food items. He would ensure someone would pay for his lack of advisement.
Dr. Linder realized they were staring at him and had not served themselves,
They are waiting for you to continue, he thought to himself,dumb ass.
Dr. Linder walked to the front of the control room nearest
the three large displays to put as much distance between him and them
as possible. He hoped it was true and they would not get involved,
but he suspected otherwise.
"Status?" Linder asked the combat coordinator.
"Yellow Team was on the verge of securing the target building. Now
that the Tanks are assisting security in the defense the battle seems
"Doctor Linder?" Hopkins queried.
"Yes." He stammered
catching the by the way sound in his voice. He turned around to face
the large man.
"I see by your recent accounting activities you requisitioned
some prototype computer processor chips for your department."
Linder thought hard about that statement. "I believed I had complete
authority to acquire whatever resources I needed for the upcoming
"Oh, yes you do." Hopkins leaned back in the leather bound
office chair, which barely contained his form. He crossed his legs
and completely relaxed realizing he was intimidating Linder. "I am
curious to the reason such an expensive untested item was required."
Dr. Mist turned in her chair, "Mr. Hopkins we required the chips for
Occam’s robotic arms. He lost the use of his arms due to complications
resulting from the fourth degree frostbite he suffered when frozen
near the Arctic."
"I don’t know if I mentioned that I watched the
Discovery Channel special and read our own internal reports." Hopkins
venomously spat while glaring daggers at the young doctor. Lisa shirked
away from the confrontation and faced her monitor the career ambitions
she possessed dwindling faster than her unsolicited remark.
allow me to explain," Dr. Linder said cutting in. He could hardly
contain a smile now Dr. Mist, an old student of his, had absorbed
Mr. Hopkins verbal alpha strike. "Occam’s Razar has been complaining
that the arms we have supplied him with were too slow."
are the latest prototypes, nothing like the production pieces." Mr.
"Yes," Linder said nervously adjusted his glasses. "Well,
it seems Occam is incredibly fast and by fast I mean spooky action
at a distance fast-"
"I thought he was precognitive," Lisa blurted
in an attempt to gather lost credibility, but immediately shut up
when Hopkins did not even acknowledge her.
Dr. Linder snorted. He
knew Lisa had greater ambitions and this encounter would ensure he
stayed under his control. "Yes, we believed he was precognitive, but
it turned out he was not."
"Doctor, did you say ‘spooky action at
a distance?’" Ms. Jackson asked adding to the conversation.
I did. It’s and industry term… well you could look it up on the Internet
for I will not bore you with industry terms."
responded liking the directness of Linder, usually when he intimidated
people they stammered and got lost in their own words. Few ever got
to the point. He decided to partake of the refreshments, poured himself
a cup of green tea, and helped himself to a large handful of teacakes.
"Very well." Linder relaxed at the sight of him eating. "Occam moves
so fast the skeletal grafts securing his limbs to his bone structure
are in danger of literally being torn from his body."
"He has super
speed then?" Ms. Jackson asked. "That wasn’t in the report."
no," Dr. Linder began. "What we would classify as super speed he does
not have. His speed is accomplished only in his immediate surroundings.
His super reflexes allow him to travel say, up to ten meters before
you can blink, after that, there is an exponential decline resulting
in the diminishing returns of his movement. He can move within ten
meters of himself so fast that any turns, sudden stops, changes in
directions, or accelerations cause his body too actually out race
the implants. We were worried that one day he would make a turn and
his body would go one way and the implants continue on their original
"The chips help that?" Mr. Hopkins asked finishing his teacakes.
"Well, yes and no." Dr. Linder began. "His attacks seemed slow for
him and we could tell he was struggling with making his arms move
when he needed them too. The chips have narrowed the gap significantly.
Well, he says they are acceptable, but I digress. Actually, it also
appears he is slightly regenerative. It is nothing like the healing
properties we employ, but it is that which preserves him. When he
is active for long periods, his bones that are grafted to the robotics
begin suffering stress cracks. The regeneration prevents them from
completely separating his body. Dr. Osaka, er… I mean Dr. Mist believes
in time this rejuvenation will strengthen them over time."
jaw dropped at the mention of her old name. Dr. Linder flashed an
apologetic look her way. Her father was from Japan and her mother
from the United States. She never liked the stereotyping her name
caused. Lisa put her hand over her forehead and shrank into her chair
stewing in her resentment.
"Continue with the training." Hopkins said
nodding and sipping from his teacup.
Linder suppressed another smile
for in the large man's hand it looked like a child’s toy. He turned
back to the plasma screens and mopped his brow with a handkerchief
he carried with him. That actually wasn’t too bad, he thought to himself.
"Where are we at?" Dr. Linder asked.
"We are approaching Phase 3,"
the combat coordinator responded.
"Good, initiate Blue Team."
Razar fervently waited with Team Gold while scratching at various
points on his body, the new uniform he was made to wear was irritating
his skin. He stood towering next to his four human training companions
in the role of lieutenant.
"Easy there," John, the acting team leader
said standing next to Razar giving the half-dragon an upwards sideways
glance. Watching the drake scratch was making his head itch. "You’re
going to rub yourself raw."
"You’ll need to focus," Jane said agreeing
with her genetic brother. She stepped closer to the edge of the energy
created building. Her emerald green eyes remained fixated toward their
goal and her ears strained to hear every nuance of the commencing
battle. Explosions and gunfire echoed and rebounded throughout the
simulated complex, which could easily convince a person they were
"I shall endeavor to understand why warriors of your time
do not conduct battle in the form they were born into."
Jane said rolling her eyes. "If I fight somebody in the nude, I will
be planning to sleep with them." She tossed a quick hidden glance
at the olive skinned Rick, flipped her long auburn red hair, and teasingly
stroked the side of her uniform, which was a one-piece form-fitted
revealing uniform colored completely in gold. It appeared to shimmer
when the light caught it at the proper angles and revealed her extremely
athletic figure. Her team was ready for active service and she could
not wait to get into the field and serve the interests of the Countess.
"Is this building even safe to walk on?" Rick asked crouching down
ignoring Jane’s innuendo and flicked the shimmering shield that reflected
the ghostly image of a rooftop with his index finger. "I mean if the
power grid were to fail we would fall."
John smiled and patted his
short cut red hair with his right hand ensuring there were no stray
strands trying to ignore Occam’s plight and looked at his team member.
"You better learn to fly, then."
"Easy for you to say," Rick replied.
His blues eyes caught the internal fluorescent lighting and sparkled.
He could not help, but notice Jane flipping her hair, John failing
to stop patting down his red hair, and the furiously scratching Occam.
His hand absentmindedly went to his own head of blonde hair thinking
he too had to scratch something.
Razar enforced his superior will
over the itching. He also had to fight the urge to rip his uniform
off and launch into battle. He hated waiting, a trait his grandmother
attributed to his human side. He instead ran his robotic fingers through
his wild dark blonde hair. His teammates had told him it reminded
them of long thick rich lion’s mane. Being compared to such a noble
and honorable beast was a compliment. His mane contrasted well against
his golden itchy uniform, complemented his dark skin color, and spiked
side burns. His personal dark brown mottling was similar to a tiger’s,
but it was less noticeable in his face, but it did cover points along
the length of his body. He even had to admit his tail fit well in
the tailored uniform. He let out a sigh accepting his fate of never
being able to run through nature in his birth form.
"Alas poor I,
condemned to endeavor the unsympathetic customs of the new world."
"There!" Jane exclaimed pointing in the distance.
The five-team members
looked on. Razar caught the fleeting image of blue clothed figure
apex in flight over one of the ghostly buildings before dipping back
"Team Blue has engaged," John said. "Stewart, start your approach."