49,096 / 50,000
It looked as if everything had been taken care of, without his consent. Brendan was annoyed, but not much. He could no longer go around introducing himself as Brendan Conrad, for obvious reasons. Or he could, but it would raise eyebrows. Not even Johnny Cash wanted a name from the opposite gender, and Brendan was nowhere near as cool as the man in black, and just could not pull it off. A girl named Brendan would have been much weirder than a Boy Named Sue. A new name was just something else Brendan would have to get used to.
While he could see the logic behind it all, and was even behind creating a new identity, what bothered Brendan the most was that he was not part of it. One more piece of his old self had been taken from him without his consent, yet another piece of his life eaten away and gone. The accident had been one matter, but this was people that had engineered it, and had taken his name away.
If he had kept his old name, then it would be very easy to figure out just which girl was kicking criminal ass. Someone, somewhere would put those pieces together, when a girl with the name of someone working on a top secret project started blasting away the bad guys, it would be very clear what had happened. As much as Brendan wanted to hold on to his old self, he knew that logic would dictate that so much of it would have to be set aside, and Dawn would have to take over.
"So, that's why I've been trying to think of you as what you are now, and I'm sorry if calling you lass was a bit jarring, but I thought it would be best, as I said, to start working you into your new life. I did not, however, mean to just blurt it out." Alphonse smiled nervously, clear that it was an unintentional slip. "But I suppose it shows I've done my work well."
Brendan nodded. "It is weird, especially coming from my oldest friend. I think it will take forever to get used to, but you're right, absolutely. Just, maybe, could I have a little warning next time?"
"Oh, consider it done, Miss Evans. It's all you will hear coming out of my mouth from here on out, as well as from everyone else."
With a sigh, Brendan slumped his shoulders and looked downwards, away from Alphonse. "So, that's it then? Dawn Evans. It does have a nice ring to it. Just not sure if it's me who wants to have the ring of it around me."
Alphonse stepped out from behind his desk, placing a stack of papers back on his desk that had remained in his hands. He came right over to his changed friend and clapped a hand on Brendan's shoulder.
"You may have a new body, and a new name, but I will always be your friend. I'm here to help you, Dawn." Brendan reflexively backed away from the name, but moved back to where he had been. "I know, it's hard. And I'm sorry, but you're Dawn now, probably forever. The sooner you get used to it, the better."
Brendan placed a hand over Alphonse's, and only gave a small nod, and a weak smile. Being forced to dive right in, and accept his new self, and not be slowly weaned off his Brendanness could arguably be for the best.
"How many other people know?"
"Not many. Myself, our direct superiors whom you've already seen as the new you. The nurses and doctors who saw you. Mostly only the people whom were aware of it from day one. They've been instructed on your new name, and also a few people who helped craft your new identity. Everyone else has no idea that Dawn Evans and Brendan Conrad are one and the same. They will all treat you as the girl you now appear to be, and have no idea that you might respond to some things Brendan would. We've kept the people who know the truth to an absolute minimum. I'm sure some people would have preferred to keep the number of people even lower, but this was the best we could do."
Brendan listened, and gave a small nod. "Now, if we're all settled on the name issue, we should probably get started."
"Started," Brendan asked. "What started? I'm not just here to pick up new paperwork?"
Alphonse shook his head, "No, I'm afraid not. We have more things to show you, Ms. Evans."
Brendan nodded, with another heavy sigh, and was led by his friend out of the small office, and led deeper into the complex, past a few doors, and even closer to the place where his accident had taken place.
Before they reached the emitter chambers, they took another elevator down to another floor, a floor Brendan had never been to, because there had never been any need. The corridors were exactly the same as on every other floor, except for the giant B5 painted on the wall outside the elevators, showing which floor anyone exiting the metal boxes were on.
Not far from the elevators, near the same spot where the emitter chambers were on the floor above as Brendan reckoned, Alphonse stopped in front of a regular looking door. The entryway was nothing like the quarantine blast doors from the rooms directly above. They looked like almost every other door in the world, looking remarkably like several ones in Brendan's new home.
Alphonse turned the knob and pushed the door into the awaiting chamber beyond. The room looked like a smaller version of the primary emitter chamber. Metal walls, consoles of varying types, computer screens, and glass portals in one wall. However, instead of taking up nearly the entire wall, the only consumed the upper half. There was also a lack of a giant cobbled together piece of machinery dominating the space of the room.
The windows, Brendan could see they were nowhere near as thick as those between the emitter chambers, looked out onto a white room much like the targetting room, but considerably larger. Beneath the windows were a number of computer consoles, with keyboard, for inputting data, and viewing readouts. For what, Brendan was unsure of.
Alphonse began to explain. "These rooms were built in anticipation of our project's success. They've been largely mothballed for the last few years, and only the barest maintenace even done on these lower levels, but now we can finally put this space to good use."
Brendan looked puzzled, but he was getting an idea what this space would be used for.
"In the event of a success, we knew that the subjects would still not be ready for immediate release. They would require some training and preparation to go out and fight for their country. The room beyond is a training facility, with thick, reinforced walls, and shielded from most forms of radiation. This room is effectively a command center to activate training dummies and targets, as well as to give the people in here feedback on just what is going on inside the room, both conditions of the room, and any subjects inside."
Brendan listened intently and nodded, taking it all in. "So, I've got my own Danger Room," he said, referencing the training room of the old Marvel Comics superhero team, the X-Men.
Naturally, Alphonse got the reference. "Precisely! Next order of business, is to pick your new superhero codename, to protect your female identity."
Signing, Brendan fought against the discussion. "Do I really need one? Secret identities are so silly and contrived. It's not like I have family and friends to protect. Brendan does, but since I've got an identity away from that, why do I need one more layer?"
"Well, it's simply expected, isn't it," argued Alphonse. "You're a superheroine now. Dawn Evans may not have a social circle to protect should a terrorist come gunning for the new girl in town yet, but eventually, you will make friends, I'm sure."
Even though Alphonse did not say anything, Brendan knew what he was implying with that statement. Looking the way he did now, Brendan would have no trouble making friends, or drawing the attention of people who wanted to be more than friends. Not that he had any intention of reciprocating any such feelings for any guys, and girls interested in Dawn were also quite far from his thoughts.
However, "I suppose you have a point," Brendan said with a little sigh. "What suggestions do you have? Please, nothing corny."
"Well, my first thought was Lightbringer, of course."
Brendan shook his head immediately. "As appropriate as that may actually be, it creates too strong of a link to the project, wouldn't you say?"
"Yes, you do have a point there, I suppose. What about Morningstar?
Once again, Brendan turned the name down. "With a project already named Lightbringer, and using yet another name very often used to describe Satan, we might be starting to come too close to offending all the wrong people with just my name."
Alphonse just gave a little nod, and stroked his chin as he considered his other options. "Starhawk?"
"Star what? Where did the hawk come from? And I think that's taken."
The doctor only shrugged. "I liked the name. Your powers reminded me of a comic character I used to read as a kid. And there's something about a strong bird like image I like. Gives you a feeling of seeking out your prey. I guess that's not the best option, though."
Brendan nodded, listening to the further suggestions.
"I refuse to be named after a very bad '80s cartoon about robotic people with wings and playing corny country music in space."
Alphonse let out a loud laugh, that echoed with a metallic sound off the computer consoles surrounding them. "Fair enough. I thought your generation might have completely forgotten about that monstrosity, and I could have slipped it past you."
"Oh no, my dad talked about it all the time, and even should me some episodes he had on those old tape based recording things. Horrible stuff. I do like the silver part, though. No way in hell will I let people call me that in public."
"All right, all right! Moving on. What do you think of Silver Star?"
Brendan paused, and gave that suggestion some serious thought. "That has a good sound to it, actually. It has silver, and my powers do seem to be given by an almost cosmic radiation, and feels vaguely starlight-esque. Not to mention, it's also the name of a medal given for service, so has a good feel of beign related to helping people, too."
"Yes, it was one of my favourite choices. The only other name I have for you right now is Silver Eagle."
"Again with the birds," Brendan said.