Member File: Triage IV
“Right behind you, Mentor,” Triage IV responded.
Rei chuckled at the name Triage had given her, then exited the Paragon City Search and Rescue Super Group base through the blue swirling gateway heading to her chosen destination, Atlas Park.
Triage IV stood before the portal amazed at how his life had changed in only a few short years. The four teleporters in the large central room powered up as the other patrols responded to the 911 Warning Beacons that seemed to continuously chime throughout the newly constructed base.
He shook his head in wonder. Only six years ago he was looking at a nomadic future of violence and crime among the small clans of Lost in northeastern Boomtown. He couldn’t even recall the name of the area. House Call, PCSAR Vanguard, had requested that the young patroller not return to Boomtown or to refer to the many zone maps in the base. Not, at least, until the Vanguard and Envoys were convinced that he was at last cured or at least found stable enough for him to delve into these areas safely.
Triage IV knew the decision had been a wise one. He could still feel the mutagens surging through his veins waiting for the right moment to complete the horrific transformation.
He had been discovered by the Lost while he had been poking around the abandoned buildings in Boomtown, looking for food, and had been taken immediately for injections before the mysterious Elders hidden in the labyrinthine tunnels deep below the surface.
All of the attempts of the PCSAR medics to uncover the mystery of the mutagens and a cure had failed. Fortunately, these efforts hadn’t been in vain. While an antidote had not been discovered, a serum that slowed the mutation - nearly to a standstill - had been found. Still in the testing state, the discovery has not been shared with the outside world…those most desperately needing it.
House Call hoped, if the primary test subject, Triage IV, continued to demonstrate relatively stable results, the treatment could be shared with the city’s medical community; not as a cure, but as a way to buy time for when that cure might be found. Until then, however, it was a constant game of watching and waiting.
When Rei Ki had found him, it was on a day when she had just gotten off patrol duty in Atlas Park. She had made a quick pass through Steel Canyon, hoping to stop in to one of the orphanages in the Silver Lake region of the city zone, and decided, at the last moment, to take a side trip to Boomtown to monitor the recent rise in Lost activity. Apparently, the monstrous villain group had collectively decided to increase its ranks with a renewed “recruiting” campaign.
Previously, the Lost had stuck to taking the various stragglers of Hellions, Trolls, and Council near the Steel Canyon Gate. But, had suddenly extended their range further.
Triage remembered that day through a vague haze. The tremendous pain had wracked his body as the mutagens worked their transformation, attacking his DNA strand and reconstructing it, matching that of the monstrous humanoids that had lumbered around him, his new family, a band of 23 partially mutated people.
“People.” The word was almost funny. He looked at his orange-gloved right hand. The PCSAR issue glove, like his trademark helmet, concealed the truth. He was trapped between two worlds: That of “People” and that of monsters. He didn’t know how long the PCSAR medications would hold off the immanent transformation the mysterious Elders had planned to bring to them, through Triage. The change would have unvealed a power to rival their most powerful Lieutenants. They had planned to use his innate psychic and empathic abilities in their own insane design to mutate the entire populace of Paragon City.
The helmet was fairly simple. It became a frequent unconscious habit of his to check the many clasps and locks securing it on his head. To his knowledge, Rei Ki, Lilith Owlwoman, another PCSAR Patroller, and House Call were the only three non-Lost, who had seen his unconcealed features. The remembered shock and horror reflected in their eyes, although quickly masked, still brought him pain.
The glove wasn’t as simple to conceal his other nonconformity. Rei had fashioned a gauntlet to give the illusion of four fingers and thumb to his grotesquely clawed hand. Triage was able to manipulate it in a fairly human-like fashion, although it was difficult and rather clumsy. But the glove served its purpose well.
That day, Rei Ki had found him, alone, writhing in agony from the latest injections he had received. In his haze of pain, the young Triage, watched as the diminutive form of the then-PCSAR Patroller, approached him and tried to ease his discomfort.
Several weeks later, the orphanage to which he had be relocated in Royal Overlook, in the northeastern district of Steel Canyon, was razed to the ground by a fire started by local gangs of Hellions. All of the orphans were rescued together with the many night workers. An article in the local paper told the tale of the young, deformed orphan who had, miraculously, not only pulled everyone to safety, but healed the many burns and bruises they received in the fire.
After correspondence with Mayor Morales and a mountain of paper work sped through the proper legal channels, Triage IV became ward of Paragon City Search and Rescue.
With Rei Ki, who was not Envoy at the time, as guide, the orphan began his studies as an empath. He learned quickly, discovering ways to bend the science-created Lost-mutagenic psychic powers to boost his inherent empathic skills. Rei Ki continued to try to persuade Triage that he should supplement his healing abilities with offensive powers as well, arguing that he would need them patrolling the potentially dangerous Paragon City zones.
Vonny Defender, a PCSAR Envoy with similar Psychic powers, attempted to instruct Triage in the intricacies of channeling psychic blasts and vibrations to complement the defensive empathic skills necessary for patrolling.
At each lesson, the mutagens surged through his veins, seeming to have a life of their own, tempting him with promises of unimaginable power if he would only succumb to their siren’s song – give into the desire he felt lurking in the shadowed places in his mind – the places that belonged to the Lost.
Triage had appreciated Vonny’s never-ending patience, but he knew he couldn’t allow himself to embrace what the Envoy was trying to teach him. To do so, meant to lose his identity – to become what he had, at one time, been destined to become – the real battle was not out on the streets of Paragon, but in Triage’s own body. Every minute, every second, every beat of his heart brought uncertainty. Would this be the one that brought the change?
He easily mastered the first power in the set, Mental Blast. Listening to his teacher, he also knew he could master the others as well, but to what cost?
Finally, he shared these fears with the Envoy.
“I understand, my friend,” Vonny Defender had told him. “Mental Blast might be the only offensive power you’ll need. On patrol, we will focus on Atlas Park or Galaxy City, where the threats are less intense than the other parts of Paragon.”
He smiled, then added, “Rei Ki will be happy to hear that you will be available for more of her healing classes. And Slick,” he continued, “will be excited about adding another pupil to his patrolling classes.”
Triage IV had chuckled at Vonny’s mention of the other Envoy. Vonny had known how Slick Zero had been a constant source of support and advice during the time the new recruit had not even heard of Paragon City Search and Rescue – a time when he had been testing his untrained empathic abilities in what was referred to as the “Low Zones” of Atlas Park and the Hollows.
Triage remembered the first time he had met Slick. His eyes still felt the remembered strain of trying to see through the glowing energy aura around the Envoy…until Slick had realized the patroller’s thoughts and had switched to his PCSAR uniform to continue their discussions.
Months after this discussion with the Envoy, Vonny Defender, Triage IV had found himself faced with the anomaly of his brother, Vulcanus Flame, a powerful Fire Aura/Ice Melee Tank. Rei Ki and Lilith Owlwoman, who both worked closely with the worlds of medicine and academia, had discovered that Vulcanus was not Triage’s brother at all, but a physical manifestation of the pent up psychic energies Vonny had tried to guide Triage to harness and control.
The mutagens had, unknowingly to Triage IV, bent his considerable psychic power to create the gigantic, physical being that Triage’s mind accepted as his brother. From that time on, the empath had been suddenly able to recall memories, although false memories, of their childhood together among the Lost of Boomtown. According to Lilith, however, Vulcanus Flame was, in reality, only months old. To Triage’s horror and amazement, she had pointed out exactly when and where the Fire/Ice Tank came to be.
Rei Ki, Lilith Owlwoman, and House Call, were the only three in the Super Group, who had known this truth. Even the Envoys did not know until the knowledge was finally revealed to Triage. House Call had told him that the secret had been guarded because the physical manifestation, Vulcanus, was, surprisingly and thankfully, a great source of good in Paragon City.
Triage shook his head, pulling his mind back to the present. He blinked at the swirling blue vortex of the gateway, wondering how long he had been standing there in his reverie. He also wondered how long Rei Ki, who had received her honor and title of Envoy only weeks after her, and Lilith’s, discoveries that helped Triage, at least partially, disconnected himself with his tortured past, had been waiting for him in Atlas Park.
Looking at the watch tucked beneath his PCSAR gauntlet, the uniform of a trusted PCSAR patroller, he noticed that only seconds had passed.
He didn’t know if the PCSAR medics would ever discover a cure or antidote for the Lost mutagens burning in his veins, but he did not care, not this day, this moment. For now he was Triage IV, Patroller of Paragon City Search and Rescue, and the 911 Warning Beacons had called him and his new family of healers to action.
He once again, unconsciously, checked the many fasteners on his helmet and stepped into the portal. There were heroes in need and he would answer that need; not as an uncertain boy, PCSAR Patroller, or fated Lost Lieutenant, but as a man, a hero of Paragon.