"WHERE IS IT?"
Jon Smith clutched his metal fingers tighter into the scientist's scrub suit shirt, dragging the shorter man off his feet and holding him suspended in air, his face only inches from the scrapper's own.
"Where is the Beta lab?" A citizen passing by the entrance to the alleyway looked in their direction, looked startled, and ran, his hands thrown in the air. Jon ignored him.
"I don't know!" the Crey scientist whimpered, "I don't know, I tell you! I've never been there!"
"How do you know about it, then?" Jon shifted his voice from a near scream to a tight whisper.
"Everybody knows about the H.E. lab, everybody at the upper levels in the medical department, that is. We all have to know about it, because we do support for the enhanced employees. It's part of our job to help them when they get in trouble or are injured during their duties. Wait, look, I'll show you, just let me show you....!"
Jon dropped the smaller man, who staggered, then dipped one hand into a pocket in his apron. Jon raised an arm threateningly, the scientist held up a hand pleadingly. "No, wait, I'm going to show you what I do!"
Jon paused, the man pulled out a small box, showed it to the scrapper. "It's a first-aid device, all of the medics carry them, and some of the scientists, too. We use them to heal injured employees, but you have to know *how* to use them, what kind of injuries you are dealing with. We couldn't use them effectively on the enhanced employees unless we knew what kind of enhancements we were dealing with."
"So....you know about this one?" Jon held up his right arm in front of the man's face.
The scientist stared, the fear on his face growing, looked into Jon's face, then away. "Yes..." he whispered. "Yes, I've seen that before. But not on anyone like you, only on Crey employees."
"What kind of employees? The Agents?"
"Yes....some of them...."
The man hesitated. "No...." he finally said. "Not a metal arm or hand, they don't have anything like that."
"How about now?" Jon growled, snapping his claws into view.
The scientist jumped, his eyes going wide. He stared at the claws. "....yes....yes, some of the Protectors have claws like that...."
"Exactly like this?"
"I can't be sure, I haven't really worked with them very closely, but what I remember about my training classes, yes, I think they look like that."
"What about the rest of the H.E. lab? The Alpha and Gamma sections?"
"I've seen the Gamma section, but it was a long time ago, during my training. I was taken there with a group of trainees, we were prevented from seeing where we were going, and I didn't ask questions afterward. I don't know about the Alpha and Beta sections, but I got the idea they weren't in the same location as Gamma. It was....important....that they remain hidden, that no one outside Crey knew that they even existed."
Convinced that he'd pried as much out of the man as he was going to get, Jon clubbed the man to the ground, knocking him unconscious, before calling in for a pickup, then stood, breathing heavily, staring down at the unconscious man.
It was Lou Pasterelli on Jon's cell phone. "I need you to get over to a Crey Lab right away. The Council is attacking, and they're threatening to take no survivors. You've got to save the Crey scientists from the Council. There's a lot of sensitive technology in that lab; we can't let the Council get their hands on it. You'll need to beat the raid's leader and rescue the scientists being held captive."
It was a typical Crey installation....Jon had seen enough of them by now that the equipment and even some elements of the layout were quite familiar to him. He fought his way through the invading Council forces, sending rescued Crey scientists scurrying for safety.
Somehow, he was only a little surprised when some of the Crey employees turned on *him*, crying "get out of our lab!" and "We've got a security breach!"
Deep in the interior of the building, he found an unusually large Cor Leonis, one of the enhanced members of the Council. "I will defend my new home to the death!" the man cried, as Jon knocked him unconscious after a vicious struggle.
Home? He stood over the man, puzzled, then turned to finish the job.
Once he was sure that he had located and removed all of the Council members from the building, Jon stole his way to an unguarded computer terminal, began searching files. He could find nothing about the H.E. lab, or Alpha, Beta, or Gamma section, but his eye was caught by a file labeled "corleon.pdf" he found buried in a folder devoted to the everyday routine for the lab. The file indicated that the Crey scientists were performing experiments on one of the Cor Leonis, the Council's super soldiers. According to the file, the Cor Leonis, Rupert Pecori, was a willing participant. Jon made a copy of the file to a USB drive he always carried in one of his pouches for just such an eventuality, out of sight of prying eyes when he left the building.
When he made a printout of the Cor Leonis file and showed it to Lou later, the mutant was impressed. "So, the Council was angry that Crey was investigating their super soldiers. I can understand that; after all, they'd hardly want the U.S. military to have access to such powerful technology. Apparently they had inside help, too, from Rupert Pecori, the Cor Leonis you fought. It turns out he mistook you for Council troops, and sends his apologies. You did a good job saving that lab, Jon Smith. If the Crey research is a success, it may give us the tools we need to defeat the Council for good."
"Lou....." Jon said slowly, in reply. "I want to talk to Pecori. Privately."
"Why, Jon? What are you thinking?"
"It's....personal, Lou, but it's important. If Pecori is really sorry about fighting me in the Crey lab, he should be willing to meet with me, just for a few minutes. Can you arrange it?"
"Hmmm....well, I'm not sure what you're up to, but, sure, you've done me enough favors that I guess I can try to arrange it. Yeah, why not, what can it hurt, and you might even be able to get more information that will help me out, too, right?"
"Yeah, Lou, I'll see what I can find out."
The tall man in the shiny black Council suit looked Jon over carefully before sitting down. "Sorry about the misunderstanding, there, Mr. Smith, but I assume you can understand my position. I was afraid some of my co-workers might try to 'free' me, or worse still, stop what we were trying to achieve. They were already in the building, and when I saw you, I had no idea whose side you were on."
"Not a problem, Mr. Pecori. And, you can just call me 'Jon', I can't think of anyone who calls me 'Mr. Smith'." The scrapper seated himself in the tiny cafe as well.
"Very well, 'Jon', and I guess you can call me 'Rupert', if we are to be on a first-name basis. I suppose you want to ask me why I would betray the Council, as far as I've gotten in the hierarchy."
"Well, the thought did cross my mind, and I'm sure Lou Pasterelli would really like to know, but, honestly, your problems with the Council don't interest me very much, and I have a different question for you. I hope you'll be willing to help me out."
"Hmmm..." The black helmet disguised any facial expression, but it was plain from the tone of his voice and his body posture that Pecori was puzzled. "Well, all right, what is it you want from me, then?"
"You might be in the position to help me out with some information that I've been looking for for some time," Jon told him, an explanation that explained nothing.
"You volunteered to allow Crey to do research on your Council enhancements, is that correct?"
"So, they were experimenting on you, on your body, trying to reverse engineer Council technology," Jon stated rather than asked.
"Yes, that's right."
"Then I the question I have to ask you is this: did you ever see, or hear about, the Crey H.E. lab, the Human Experimentation lab?"
Pecori sat back in his chair, cocked his head to one side. "Human Experimentation lab? Where did you hear about such a thing?"
"Does it matter?"
"No, I suppose not...." The big Cor Leonis lifted one hand, waved over a waitress, ordered coffee, black, then turned back to the scrapper, who smiled to the waitress but waved her off. "Wherever you got your information, Jon, you're barking up the wrong tree."
"Why do you say that?"
"Crey doesn't have any such lab; I think I would know about it if it existed, after all, they were experimenting on me, right?"
"My information indicates otherwise."
"I don't always agree with everything Crey does, but they are a big corporation, and sometimes the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing. That's the nature of the beast. It doesn't bother me, certainly any where near as much as what the Council is doing, and trying to accomplish. But the whole time I was there, I never heard of any such lab, and certainly, all the work that they were doing with me was in their standard technology labs, or medical clinics. I never saw anyone besides myself being worked on, and I wouldn't exactly say that what they were doing to me qualified as 'experimentation'. They were just trying to figure out how the Council technology worked. It was all quite harmless."
Jon nodded, but looked unconvinced.
"Look...." The big Cor Leonis toyed with his coffee, staring out the cafe's window. "Back when Crey started out, as Crey Biotech, back around, oh, 1990, or thereabouts, they did have an animal experimentation lab. Most of the big bio labs did, you know, it was part-and-parcel with the bio-engineering industry at the time. But PETA got involved, and caused Crey a lot of bad publicity, and Crey wound up shutting the animal experimentation lab down. As far as I know, they never re-opened it, and they certainly didn't start up a human experimentation lab....it would have destroyed their reputation if they had, and they probably would be out of business today. Crey expanded into other technologies, other than bio-engineering; that's when they re-tooled themselves as Crey Industries, so the whole experimentation thing became a moot point."
Jon nodded. "I see. Thank you for your time, Rupert, I appreciate you setting me straight on that."
Pecori drained his coffee, stood up and stuck out a hand. "You're welcome, Jon, any time, you have any more questions, you can just contact me directly. I'm very impressed with the job you did at Crey."
Jon took his hand and shook it solemnly, then watched as the man in the black suit left the cafe.
So....Crey had never started a human experimentation lab....
....as far as Rupert Pecori knew, that is.
Jon, of course, knew better.
Copyright terraforming.com, November 26, 2012