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Foreword

For weeks I considered a dozen different ways to introduce my brother to the
public.  I never considered how tricky it would be.  Only a select few knew
he was Sgt. Steve Timmons of the Galaxy City Police Department.  The
Citizens of Paragon City knew him only as the armored crimefighter
Cyberforce.  How do you introduce the story of one man when everyone knows
him as another persona entirely?  In such cases the truth has a way of
melting away.  I couldn’t let that happen, so I decided to let him tell his
own story.

For my own part, my brother was the best person I ever knew.  Read this book
and you’ll know why.

When you get right down to it, the measure of a man’s life is in the way he
lived it.  Did he do all he could to make the world a safer place?  Did he
value fairness and honesty?  Did he value hard work, dedication, honor and
perseverance?  And perhaps most importantly, did he inspire those around him
to be better people?

My brother did all those things.  It wasn’t easy for him.  A Hero’s life is
not always glamorous, as you will read.  Steve never made millions off his
image.  He had no movies based on his exploits.  There were times when he
was so discouraged he wanted to give up.  But he didn’t.  That’s the measure
of a Hero in my book.  Anyone can quit.  It takes a special kind of courage
to get up after you’ve been knocked down and climb back into the arena.  It
takes an iron will to endure some of the tragedies you encounter as a Hero
and not succumb to remorse.  It takes guts to show mercy to your enemies.  
Steve did all those things.

One night we were on patrol together in Independence Port.  He had been
patrolling IP for weeks, keeping an eye on the Family’s dealings with the
Tsoo.  I was fairly new to the Hero business, with a security level of only
14.  In fact, I had only just learned to control my jet boots.  Still a
rookie, really.  His suit technology and experience was miles ahead of my
own as well.  I was out of my league here, and I knew it.  On my own I’d get
clobbered.

As we squatted atop a giant crane he saw a wanted Family capo taking a meet
with a Tsoo “grandfather”, a sorcerer named Ti Wiun.
His suit pulsed to life, creating a soft yellow aura around him that told me
he’d enabled his physical protection systems.  “I’ll piss’em off, you
blast’em,” he whispered through his voice modulator.  “And watch out for
poisoned shuriken.”
“Okay, little bro,” I whispered back, and enabled my weapons systems.  As if
sensing my fear, he added, “Ben, don’t worry.  I’ll protect you.  Nobody
hurts you while I’m around.”

We were victorious, but in the melee a nearby dock worker caught a fatal
bullet from one of the Family goons’ Tommy guns.  He knew he was dying and
he asked Steve to jump him to the top of one of the giant cranes.  “I’ve
always wanted to see what dawn looked like from up there,” he said.  So
Steve did, and moments later the three of us watched the sunrise together.
“You know,” said Steve to the man, “through my blast shield the colors are
amazing.”  He took off his helmet and put it on the man.  “Wow,” said the
man.  “Thanks, Cyberforce.”  They were the last words he ever spoke.

Using his law enforcement connections, Steve found out the man’s name and
sent money every month to his widow and young son.  Anonymously, of course.

A wise man said integrity is what you do when no one is watching.  Another
said true heroism is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,
but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.  Steve paid that cost.  He
paid a price for our safety that many would not, could not.  He was the best
person I ever knew and I feel the loss of him terribly sometimes -- and
always whenever I see the first amber streaks of dawn arrive over the water.

Thanks, Cyberforce.  For everything.
                                                   ---- Capt. Ben Timmons,
USAF Ret.
                     “Cyberjet”





                                                         P A R T    O N E :

                                                     D  I  S  C  O  V  E  R  
Y


“If a suitable element can be found and manipulated,
and a human subject protected within the parameters set by our Friends,
then this project has more than a moderate chance of success.”

– PROJECT: CAUSE operations manual, Volume 1, Page 2






The following excerpts are the authentic and verified computer journal
entries of Sgt. Steve Timmons, a.k.a. Cyberforce.  They were recovered by me
and his daughter Cassidy (not her real name) shortly after Steve’s death on
August 12th, 2007.  Certain names have been changed to protect the innocent.
  The guilty can go to hell.     –  Ben Timmons






                                                    Chapter 1:
                                                The Money Trail



“Project budget is classified.  Access to budget paperwork is governed by
strict protocols and monitored by the United States Department of Defense.  
Any attempt to access classified project files will be considered a threat
to national security and will be met with immediate and decisive response.”
-- PROJECT:CAUSE operations manual, Volume 1, Page 1



October 6, 2004 (Thursday)
Home
2245 HRS

I’m so tired I can’t see straight.  I’ve got a near-constant headache and my
shoulder is killing me.  I’m 38 years old and this job is already turning me
into an old man.  The long hours wouldn’t be so bad if we were making any
kind of a dent, but it’s going on seven months now with no significant
reduction in local crime in Galaxy City.  The week isn’t even over yet and
I’ve already got 40 hours of overtime.  Veterans are quitting faster than we
can recruit new blood.  Poor choice of words.  The Hellions have started
scalping victims, including cops.  It’s more dangerous to wear a badge these
days than ever before.  Can’t say I blame the vets.  If I had 20 years on
I’d seriously consider retirement.  No such luck for me, though.  Between
being the youngest sergeant in the precinct and my alimony payments I’ll be
working the job for another 20 years at least.

Since my promotion a year ago I’ve been deeper into the job than I ever was
as a patrolman.  And it’s not just the long hours – it’s the knowledge, the
privileged information, the things Lieutenants don’t want me telling the
men.  It keeps me up at night.  When the deep quiet of night is pierced by
wailing sirens outside my apartment I wonder if I’m going to have another
cop’s death report on my desk in the morning.  And always in the back of my
mind I wonder: where is the Galaxy City I grew up in?  Have all the cutbacks
and back room political maneuverings doomed us, put us at the mercy of
groups like the Skulls and Hellions?

Not that the Heroes are doing much about it.  I guess it’s not glamorous
enough to weigh in against lowly thugs and tough guys, the assholes who are
the real threat to the decent people who do most of the working and dying in
this “City of Heroes”.  How arrogant they are, swooping in with their
glowing costumes and their overwhelming bravado.  How full of purpose they
are, how full of big plans for glory and fame.  I suppose I should take a
clue from my Lieutenants and kiss the ground they walk on, offer them medals
and thank my lucky stars these “super heroes” have blessed us with their
mighty crime fighting presence, even for a little while.

Screw that.  They’re worthless.   They’re worse than worthless.  They have
no dedication to anyone but each other.  They are a separate caste -- the
warrior elite -- and we are the peons who benefit from their mercy.  I’m
tired of it.  I’m tired of informing wives and husbands their loved ones
have been killed by common thugs.  I’m tired of fighting gridlock each day
while our glorious benefactors, these magnificent Heroes, glide effortlessly
through the air above us, smiling and waving, refusing to help us unless it
helps them.  I’m tired of seeing Hero after Hero leave for “greater
challenges” after “testing themselves” against the “low level crime” in
Galaxy City.  I’m tired of seeing that concerned look in Cheryl’s eyes each
time I pick Cassidy up for my one weekend a month --  the look that asks:
"Can you protect her in that cesspool?"  I’m tired of pushing down the
thought that rises each time:  "No.  I can’t."

Hell, I’m just tired.





October 10, 2004 (Monday)
Home
0041 HRS

Was going over old budget reports down in the basement evidence room at
lunch today (I can’t remember when I last had lunch in a restaurant) when I
came across a strange entry.  There was an unaccounted for expenditure dated
February 22, 2003 for “Special Tactical Supplies” in the amount of $250,000.
  Now I may not know much but I know what tactical supplies look like and we
hadn’t seen any new tactical anything since I was a rookie, especially
$250,000 worth!  I looked up the expense code and it came back “Classified”.
  Strange.





October 12, 2004 (Wednesday)
GCPD Desk 141/Timmons
1054HRS

Asked around about the classified expenditure.  Nobody had a clue.  Did some
digging in the GCPD mainframe and hit several roadblocks.  Somebody didn’t
want people finding out where the $250,000 went.  Found an authorization
code, though.  RAMJET.  Don’t know what it means, except I remember a Hero
by that name who was rumored to have been a cop at one time.

1334 HRS
Got a visit from Lt. Michaels.  He told me the mainframe recognized my login
and flagged it.  He told me the expenditure was justified in the department
budget for 2003 and not to worry about it.  I asked him what it was for and
he said crowd control equipment.
“A quarter-of-a-million dollars worth?” I asked.
“It was a lot of equipment,” he said.  “Very high tech.  Crey and Wetware
were involved.”
I know Crey and Wetware.  My sidearm is a Crey feathersteel 9mm.  Very
expensive.  Both companies are very hush hush about their sources.  Rumor
has it they employ the Family to protect shipments landing in Independence
Port.  Rumor has it they deal in extraterrestrial technology.
“Where is it?” I asked.
He said, “It was never bought.  It was approved but never purchased due to
revised cutbacks.”
I asked him about RAMJET and he told me he didn’t know what that meant.  He
said to drop it because Internal Investigations would be on me quick if I
kept asking about classified expenditures.  “I’m telling you this as a
friend,” he added with a firm pat on my shoulder.

Something is not right about this.  If it was just another cancelled
purchase why is it classified?





October 14, 2004 (Friday)
GCPD Desk 141/Timmons
1014 HRS

All those hacker prevention courses paid off today.  I got into the
mainframe and past the roadblocks to the Department Expenditures files.  I
was right.  Something was definitely not right about this.  According to the
classified file, Ramjet was Officer Milton Ramage, who was working with GCPD
on a new type of crowd control technology for the department.  I remembered
it as soon as I read it.  It made big news at the time – a real Hero working
with the department on new law enforcement technology.  It was quite the
public relations coup.  But that’s all the public knew.  No one but the
project coordinator knew Ramjet’s real name, or the rest.  I’ll probably
lose my job, but I’m going to record what I’ve seen.  People need to know
what happened.

Ramage was in charge of the project, codenamed C.A.U.S.E. (Cybernetic
Armored Urban Security Enforcement).  That’s why he had authorization.  GCPD
was adapting his technology for mob control, specifically the cybernetic
arrays and power modulation circuitry he used as Ramjet.  They were creating
a powerful cybernetic suit of armor to battle the hordes of Constellation
Row and everywhere else.  According to the spec sheet, this suit was going
to be something totally unlike anything anyone had ever seen.  It was going
to scare the shit out of the Hellions.  I’ll admit, it sounded like a good
idea.

But things went terribly wrong.  Ramage’s technology, which was best suited
to speedy flight and the creation/release of plasma-static energy, could not
be adapted easily to an armored suit whose main function was to stand fast,
protect its wearer and overpower multiple combatants.  There were tragic
consequences.  During threshold testing on a prototype “cybersuit”, Ramage
suffered irreversible injury and died on the scene.  The project died as
well, quickly and quietly, all its files flagged and classified.  Although
other Ramjets have appeared in Paragon City (one turned out to be his son
Morgan), the original Ramjet (and his technology) was never seen again.

Project C.A.U.S.E. was halted, presumably before any of the suits were
deployed.  I assume they were destroyed.  It explains why the files were
classified; who wants to tell a hopeful populace that one of its Heroes just
died testing technology that was supposed to protect them?  It explains the
$250,000 – Crey technology doesn’t come cheap.  One thing it doesn’t
explain: how can Lt. Michaels claim not to know what RAMJET means when his
signature appears on dozens of C.A.U.S.E. reports?





October 17, 2004 (Monday)
Laptop/Timmons
0838 HRS

I’m writing this in my car because I’m convinced my work computer is being
monitored.  It’s no longer safe for me to record my discoveries about Ramjet
and the Project C.A.U.S.E. armor on GCPD computers.  I have changed my
password and encrypted all these entries.  I’m sitting under a bridge in
Equinox.  I’m shaking.  I’m exhilarated.  I’ve just done something that
could get me fired.  Hell, it could put me in the Zig.  And yet I’ve never
been prouder of myself.

I went in early today, during shift change, when I knew officers would be
preoccupied.  I took the basement key set and snuck down to the evidence
lockers.  I opened locker 264, the one listed in a C.A.U.S.E. report as the
“special supply locker”.  There was nothing there.  Nothing strange about an
empty locker, right?  Wrong.  How about when all the other lockers in the
room are filled with flak jackets and spare boots and old helmets and entire
assortments of discontinued equipment?  It was the only empty locker in the
entire place.  I stepped inside and felt for a switch, a knob, a lever,
anything.  There was only a twisted nail poking out through the metal.  I
flipped it down.  There was a loud clack as the back of the locker
unlatched.  I opened the secret door and stepped inside a narrow walkway,
barely big enough to turn around.  The hall ran for about twenty feet, then
opened up into a rather large room ringed with shelves covered with strange
objects.
"What the hell --?” I thought.

There were two large trunks, like the kind used by rock bands, on the cement
floor along the wall.  They were covered with dust, the result of months
hidden under a building.  They were unlocked.  Inside each was one perfectly
clean armored bodysuit – one dark green and one dark blue.  Sheriffs and PD,
I thought to myself.  These were not like the clunky armored suits used by
our own SPORT  team.  These were streamlined, contoured combinations of the
latest form-fitting protective materials and literally hundreds of yards of
nanocircuitry.  There were armored helmets with heads up display visors and
a comm antenna.  There were gloves with titanium actuators.  The boots were
titanium plate armor.  There were two small atomic battery packs each.  On
the inside of the trunk lids were two engraved metal signs designating them
as Cybersuit Prototype #1 and Cybersuit Prototype #2.  Under the signs
someone had written “Green Meanie” and “Blue Demon”.  There were pages and
pages of hastily-assembled, sometimes handwritten, formulas, graphs, notes
and instructions.

I grabbed the trunk of Cybersuit #1 (it weighed about 80 pounds) and made my
way out to the department parking lot.  I quickly threw it in the back seat,
expecting at any moment to hear angry calls of “Timmons!  Stop!” coming from
Michaels’ office window four stories above.  But Michaels was gone for the
weekend.  I had done it.
But what have I done?  Do I even know?  I’ve just stolen $125,000 worth of
classified (and potentially lethal) crime fighting technology from the GCPD!
  I put it in my car!  I drove away to hide under a bridge!  What am I going
to do now?

But I know what I’m going to do.  I think I’ve known for years.  I just
didn’t have the means to do it until now.  I’m going to go back on patrol.  
I’m going to rehab my wounded shoulder with weights and physical therapy
instead of taking a do-nothing, accomplish-nothing desk job and rotting away
the next 20 years of my life.

I’m going to fight at street level, where the real damage is being done to
good people.  I’m going to take the fight to the gangs and punks who think
they run things.  I’m going to enforce the law, with emphasis on force.  I’m
going to make them pay for every cop’s widow and fatherless child.  With the
cybersuit I can take back the streets from the Skulls and the Hellions, take
it back from the Warriors and those technopunks the Freakshow.  I can fight
the Family the one way they understand – raw unstoppable force.  They will
re-learn what it is to feel the cold grip of fear, to know that the law is
coming for them, that justice cannot be stopped, that they cannot get away –
not this time, not anymore.

Only one man knows where the suit came from and he won’t say anything or
he’ll risk having to explain the entire C.A.U.S.E. project to an eager
press.  No, Michaels won’t say a word.  Of course, he’ll probably figure out
it’s me eventually.  I have to think of something for when that happens.  In
the meantime I have to learn as much as possible about the suit’s
capabilities before I actually try to engage the gangs.

I don’t know what I’m doing, but I know it’s the right thing.


TO CHAPTER 2 >


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