Jon smiled and nodded greeting to Lou Pasterelli, grateful that things seemed to be getting back to some semblance of normality.
"I need you to save a Crey lab from the Freakshow," Lou told him. "According to my sources, the Freaks are planning to attack it today. Apparently they're after some sort of advanced medical technology that will help their bodies more readily accept their metal implants."
At the lab, one of the freed hostage scientists told him: "The Freaks stole our latest biotech gadget: the cellular regenerator. The regenerator repairs human tissue at a phenomenal rate; the Freaks probably want it so they can implant more devices in their bodies and recover from wounds more quickly. They also stole a lot of our data."
It took him some time, but he managed to convince some lower level Freakshow to divulge the location where the stolen regenerator had been taken, a nearby warehouse.
At the warehouse, while searching for the regenerator, the scrapper found two things he had not been looking for. On a computer in the warehouse was a stolen Crey file, which contained extensive data on human cloning, and referred to experiments that dated back several years. The other item, found in an extremely expensive refrigerator, was a box of vials containing skin samples, each labeled with the name of a well-known hero of Paragon City. The colorfully printed labels were clearly marked "Crey Industries".
It appeared that the Freakshow had stolen quite a bit more than just the regenerator.
Grimly, Jon reported his findings to Lou after turning the evidence over the Paragon City police. "It's not too difficult to see why Crey didn't want to admit to the other thefts," he commented. "It's just sheer luck that I found the tissue samples before I found the regenerator and stopped looking."
"Jon, we've all heard about how you've been gunning for Crey," the mutant responded. "Without proof, none of us have been able to pin anything on Crey Industries or the Countess, but this last evidence you found puts a whole different perspective on the situation. I'm going to pass you on to a friend of mine, Captain Gordon Stacy, with the Paragon City police force. I want you to take him this information, he's been investigating Crey for years, and he's in the best position to put it to good use.
"While you're at it, ask him if you can do anything for him. I think he could really use your help. He's made himself unpopular by investigating Crey, and I'm sure he'd appreciate some enthusiastic back up."
"....Gordon, Lou couldn't figure this out, I'm hoping that you can." Jon leaned casually against the chain link fence, out of the way of the passersby, and out of earshot. "Is there any legitimate reason that Crey would have had those skin samples? Any secret project, some sort of research into Rikti war weapons and their effects, maybe?"
"Jon, if there was any such project, it would have to be at the federal level, because I certainly haven't been able to dig it up." The police Captain frowned. "It couldn't be anything to do with the Rikti, at least not if it was legit. Crey had their hands slapped a couple of years ago for secretly stockpiling Rikti technology, and they were forbidden from possessing any Rikti items at all. Everything that they had acquired was taken away from them and either stored or passed on to other labs."
"Then....why....? The file on cloning techniques being stolen from the same lab as the tissue samples looks awfully suspicious to me. They couldn't actually be trying to clone Paragon City heroes, could they? And if they were....why? And whatever research they were doing.....why only on heroes who were either known dead or missing in action? Certainly, if it was legitimate research, heroes would line up to donate tissue samples. I'd do the same myself. Why only have samples from heroes who were not in the position to protest?"
"I've had my science advisors digging into all the published information on Crey going back five years, looking for anything on cloning," Stacy told the scrapper. "Press releases, scientific papers, patents, investigative reports. Nothing mentions human cloning in any way, although there were some early papers on animal cloning a few years back. If Crey is working on cloning, of any kind, they are playing it close to the chest, and that makes me suspicious, too. What is it that they have to keep secret? The patents alone would be worth a fortune, it's true, and they would have to worry about industrial espionage, but at the same time publishing would also attract the top minds in the field, and going public about the research would actually protect them against later accusations that *they* were guilty of stealing from other labs."
"Here's another nasty question for you: why only heroes, and not other citizens?"
"And that is a very good question. I don't have any answers for you, Jon, I'm just as suspicious about this as you are. Until we can dig up some more facts on the topic, I think we have to shelve this for now. But keep your eyes open, Jon. There has to be an explanation....and I'm betting a round of drinks at The Hungry Dragon that it isn't legal."
"...I've been hearing rumblings on the Internet about a new hacker called The Doctor."
Jon frowned. "Gordon, I ran into a so-called hacker who called herself The Doctor before, when I was on Task Force Indigo. Could it be the same person?"
"Hard to say. This 'Doctor' seems to be very anti-Crey, taking responsibility for the attacks on Crey's servers, and posting some very amusing stories about Countess Crey on the various news sites. He's very good at covering his tracks, but there's an abandoned warehouse that his IP address has been traced back to. The warehouse used to deal in electronics and computers and is still wired for broadband internet, perfect for any hacker to use as a base of operations. My sources inside Crey tell me that they know about the warehouse as well, and will probably try and apprehend our friend the Doctor for themselves. We all know how that will end up, so try to get to him before they do, ok?"
Jon found himself in the position of having to clear a lot of Crey security out of the way before he could pay attention to the network of computers that he found plugged in, turned on, and logged into the Internet. Gordon Stacy thoughtfully provided police backup to finish the paperwork and remove the trespassers, leaving Jon free to concentrate on putting the pieces of the puzzle together.
It was an ugly story.
One computer had various news sites bookmarked on it. Checking through them, they all seemed to be about Dr. Carole Friedken, an elderly female scientist working for Crey under Dr. Amadeo Giacomo at his Mind Control Center.
Jon recognized the name Friedken, at least. He was more and more certain that Stacy's Doctor was indeed the same Dr. Friedken who had contacted Manticore and started Jon on the path that had ended with Hopkins' arrest.
The last news article was the most troubling; it described Carole Friedken's body showing up in the sewers of Paragon City five months after her disappearance.
A short message in a telnet window on another computer read: "Am I in that warehouse? Yes and no. I can see you in there, though, and I'm sure you've seen my enemies there as well. One thing is certain however, you will never find me there. But it's also the best place to look for me, or rather, for who I was."
A third computer yielded: "What was it like? I really can't say. I live now in an artificial world of my own making. I'm not old anymore, and I'm much more focused. So many little things you miss, though. I'm just glad I was able to escape them in the first place. You're a dear, but don't worry about me. They can't catch me. And with knowledgeable friends like Executable Number 6, I can fight against Crey's plans. And oh, do they have plans. Don't trust the Protectors, my friend. I think that's why I was murdered in the first place."
Hyperlinks pointed to two computer files, prepared patent applications. The file called "Crey Patent Application for Memory Transference Device" looked eerily similar to another file labeled "Patent Application for Memory Downloading Process", right down to identical wording in some paragraphs.
When Gordon Stacy checked into it, he determined that the second one had never been filed. The applicant was Dr. Carole Friedken, and the application was dated only days before her disappearance.
There was one final electronic document. It was a scan of a set of orders on Crey letterhead, titled "Protector Orders" and signed by several members of the Crey Security organization. It listed several heroes marked as "Known enemies of Crey Industries", and gave orders to take "any possible measures" against them.
Jon Smith's name was in the top tier of the enemy list.
Copyright terraforming.com, November 26, 2012