Shades of Crey:
Issue 1
Revenant Drake

Fan Fiction by
Anthony Harte

"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 is broadcasting."

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 the speculation.

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 eyes.

"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.
"Officer Sparrow."

"Yes, Doctor?" he replied guessing what was to come.

"You’re escorting Occam today, correct?"

"Yes, sir."

"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 the room.

"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 much.

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 Second-In-Charge.

"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, yet.

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 stalemated."

"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."

Dr. Linder thought hard about that statement. "I believed I had complete authority to acquire whatever resources I needed for the upcoming project."

"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.

"If you’ll 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."

"Really, those are the latest prototypes, nothing like the production pieces." Mr. Hopkins said.

"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.

"Uh, yes 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."

"Continue," Hopkins 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, 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 course."

"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."

Lisa’s 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."

Occam’s 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 surrounded.

"I shall endeavor to understand why warriors of your time do not conduct battle in the form they were born into."

"You wish," 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 below.

"Team Blue has engaged," John said. "Stewart, start your approach."
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