Paradise Hotel 51

Where Gaming Dies

Epoch: Chapter 1

Elysian Fields Facility

Ouroboros Wing, Stasis Lab

2 months later

Art by Kitano Smith

The ‘Lab’ had never felt much like a lab. At least not any lab Emir had visited, or seen in those science fiction flicks on VHS; the Bela Legosi ‘Night of the living – bullshit’, ‘Evil Dead’ – type in black and white…and Evil Dead. The ones he’d rented and watched over and over in that goddamned trailer he’d donated to the nearest scrap pile when the time had been appropriate.

This part of the lab, Win had been adamant about making approachable…human. There were no mere ‘slabs’ here, and he had stipulated, even against Ben’s protests, that the walls be painted not a stark white, but an angelic, warm, cream color. The Fields supported a more refined décor base on general principle; however, it was surprising, and in some instances, jarring, to many when applied – with all medical protocol involved – to the actual technical, medically inclined areas of the place. Even most doctors had an initial problem with it, if visiting or assisting on various procedures; the oddness, the elective qualities of a private practice inside a vast government funded facility, an E.O.R., a hospital…was for many, simply faux pas. If any guest, potential or consulting doctors truly belonged there, however…it usually wasn’t a problem for very long. The Fields’ were new concepts, and needed new, dazzling – comforting – realms to dwell and flourish within. Win had made that comfort his personal mission statement in life. Emir felt deeply akin to the man, and respected him flawlessly.

Ben was another matter completely. Win and he had been partners since before ‘world peace’…which was now in world ‘pieces’. The two men were polar opposites, but Ben Shepard was one of the country’s top medical technicians…period. His innovations in surgery made him invaluable. His open, glare-eyed quality for digesting the impossible with a twinge of ‘fuck you’ made him amazing to learn from. His team was a good one, and Win’s was equal in peer…a little less pistol whipped, but then that was Ben for you; aggressive, crazy to the point of sanity, a workaholic zealot. Reliable beyond all others…save Window, of course.

Both men looked to be in their 30’s. The Fields’ medical faculty was concocted of the best, and well-versed in the incredible qualities of life. When you’re 65-years old and you look 35…it isn’t always Medicare. In most cases, current times taken into account…it had nothing to do with care at all. It had everything to do, on the other hand, with who you knew. Ben and Win…had known people. And those people had been very interested in benefiting them, in the long run. Emir couldn’t fault the process…it had been going on long before he had arrived upon the blood-splattered scene…or cared about it. He certainly cared a great deal about it now. Window and Ben had been members of the first ‘Sixes’. The ‘Sixes’ were named for their ‘awakening’ in the years ending in ‘6. ’96. ’06. ’26…and soon to be ’36. This…was a big year, suddenly. And with no legend, no fore-warning of its mythical quality.

The Ouroboros Program’s main derivative was simple; slow the kinetics of the human body to the stopping point. It had taken decades…quite a few…but it had been attained; the ceasing of age. True physics/genetics research in peak condition had penetrated the goal…and jumped the ageing debacle completely. Perhaps the ways to achieving this goal had been lost to the mainstream due to an oversight on the part of the general, more media friendly sciences. But Emir doubted it. Cloning had rammed into its problems; it’d been a melee lost to small-mindedness.

The potential of its results had been stymied, hung upon a fitting cross…when it’d had no damn need to be accosted by religious arguments. And especially when the bulk of those arguing had been bible beaters from families with more genetic unrest and breeding motivation than any other. Few with over even 50 Gen Ed credits had involved themselves in said arguments. Science in the more verbose, dedicated circles had learned from its mistakes…and just shut the fuck up. If cloning was no longer an option, morally based or not…then it would be avoided, and at all reasonable and allotted for cost. There were those who could definitely afford to throw in for an avalanche of scientific breakthroughs, and had done so. The ‘Sixes’ were a prime example of that.

Many were inducted into the ‘Sixes’ each decade. The main innovators, of course…had been front and center the inaugural year. Many from the Cate house, the Roulette. Many from the Blackburn Organization. That was a happenstance, however, in some cases. The only thing it ever really came down to, any year, was who knew who, who had the funds to put towards what…and who had the guts to be subject…to revolution.

The consent age was non-existent but those who’d helped create the Program to begin with had certain ethical vantage points they wanted upheld. Some applicants had simply needed to wait until reaching an appropriate age…one where they would at least look 21. It was a strategic move. And the re-aging process…hadn’t gone nearly as well as the cease-aging. It was a small sacrifice to make by anyone…and a not so small waiver that needed to be signed on their part. There was no fee for participation. There certainly was compensation. This was in no way limited to refreshments.

There were other aspects of Ouroboros that bore mentioning; the raising of the dead, termed ‘regenerating’ in the overpower world and ‘resurrecting’ by those who were inclined to be heathens was far from taboo. It just happened to be achieved in a nice, non-scientific way. Full regeneration was usually attained by having an acquaintance who could ‘raise’. Most applicants enrolling with Ouroboros were alive at the time of participation. Most. If potential applicants were deceased at the time of clearance for the procedure…other, more ‘fantastic’ methods had to be called upon…necessary red tape included, of course.

Art by Dcat

‘Raise’. noun. (overpower definition, ‘Fields Guide to Human Phenomena’, 2033 ed.)

‘To bring one back from the dead.’

Is not typically directly related to full regeneration, or return to peak strength and/or condition of individual being raised. Results are dependant upon the healing attributes of participating overpower. Generally, ‘raising’ is achieved by healing all wounds or conditions that resulted in the death of the individual, or ‘recipient’ being ‘raised’. Again, this is indicative of participating overpower.

Ex. Harman Smith. (??-??) Able upon certain arrangements to ‘raise’. However, not being a genuine ‘healer’, the ‘recipient’ was left after ‘raising’ to heal naturally from whatever fatal wounds, (reversed to then ‘nearly fatal’ status) were the cause of death.

‘Raise’ cont.

After regeneration, results of corresponding healing and the return of a ‘recipient’s core strength are variable. Certain overpower healers have the ability to regenerate in full, while others can only heal wounds, and/or adverse conditions, not impacting the return of strength at all. This results in the ‘recipient’s need for longer rest periods (i.e., longer than 12 hours of natural sleep, 24+ hours of induced sleep, or unconsciousness), and reduced activity (return to work duties, physical stress, operating a vehicle).

Ex. Emir Parkreiner. (1983-) overpower. Able to heal intuitively, due to aspects of heritage. Healing results in repair of wounds and many advanced medical conditions. Core strength and mood/well-being; unaffected.

In certain rare occasions, euphoric altered states, and a greater sense of well-being (i.e., Abel Saviour΄) are a result of a recipient’s regeneration process. Certain other, even rarer occasions provide full regeneration, and full return of core strength, either immediately, or over time (see profile: Abel Saviour΄ for further details).
( – pg. 132, 133)

The overall cost for running Ouroboros was actually…moot. And taken care of, on a grand scale. If participating, you were considered a donation of science and subject to annual testing for every consecutive – sometimes non-consecutive – year you were alive. Monetary donations by participants were welcome, however unstipulated. Most donations were unnecessary considering the benefactors…but eventually huge. When you live unhindered by age for a great period…success is only a matter of will. It is no longer a matter of time. It is a result of time.

If you happened to be deceased at the time of your participation, or raised as a result thereof, then results were just a tad varied; instead of the usual, initial frozen state of age upon entry, or reentry as it were, aging gradually stopped around the age of thirty-three; it was the fabled, ‘perfect age’ heralded by Christianity; the age of Christ when He’d met His…Father. The connotation worked well enough, however peculiar. And if you happened to be around that age, already…then no harm, no foul. Regardless…the rewards for being a part of any such Program…were substantial.

Window had even met the love of his life through Ouroboros; she was also a member of the first ‘Sixes’. Dr. Shell Agni-St. James was at the top of her game in genetics research and extensive trauma innovation. Had saved many lives in New York City after moving from Teddington, England, based upon her understandings of the human body and its reactions to severe, nearly irrevocable damage. The City of Angels had welcomed the woman – ‘awakened’ at age 32 – with open wings…and benefited her incredibly. In turn, she had benefited it…and her son was one of the most heralded Federal Agents in the country, had been dubbed a National hero during the aftermath of 9-11 in 2020. He wasn’t Window’s son…but that of her first husband. However, Window’s heart had always been soft. And he had a good relationship with his stepson, Sean Bloom. Sean had taken his father’s name, though he’d never gotten the chance to know him. But Harry’d been a good man, however conflicted. And…some things deserved to be commemorated.

Emir and Dr. Window St. James were commemorating this day…by standing around and waiting for Ben. Shell had been…needed elsewhere, in her humble medical and personal opinion. Given the incredible circumstances brought about by the past two months of furious research – appropriation, both in knowledge and substance – it was no wonder she’d gone to the Windy, White City. She had needful things to deal with, to heal, as was her purpose in life. Ben…was being an asshole.

Win smoothed out his hair. It had always been a docile brown…but recently, at Sean’s request…he’d tried blond streaks. They made him look even younger. That would have been a compliment…but Win wasn’t in the mood right now…Emir could tell. He knew everyone too well upon close or even passing interaction. Window was aptly named, though; his every emotion was ever-present, upon his lab-coat sleeve. He would have been pacing, if not for the fact that he knew Emir abhorred the action, the motion.

Win exhaled, shook his head, his shorter stature making Emir look as he always did next to him; like a giant.

“Emir,” he said blithely…in his typical way, and in the pseudo-Brit-N.Y. accent he’d picked up from Shell over the years; the injected Cali ease was noted. “It’s July 7th.

“I’m aware of that, Window. Would you like to move onto the bonus round?”

No,” Window contorted his voice, preoccupied, as if the Triumph of the Skies were occurring in his lap, presently. “I’d dare say this is enough of a ‘bonus round’ for us all. But…really…is that supposed to be a joke?”

Emir smiled, against all odds.

“Yes,” he said. “Why aren’t you laughing?”

“Emir – your sense of humor truly betrays your past ventures-“

“-Present ventures-“

-And your age.”

“I’m fifty-threeAnd I’m one of the ‘Sixes’. Age is moot.”

“I’m one of the ‘Sixes’, too, Emir,” Window added, seeming more like he was reminding him he was taking the same class he was than anything else. “Age is not moot. It’s simply unhindered by decay, in our case. And I still don’t know why you waited so long.”

Emir grunted. Not something he did often.

“I had to think about it.”

“You ignored my emails, my texts, my Vision messages and my phone messages for ten years. I was about to bribe the hologram.”

Emir was still smiling.

“I politely skirted. I would’ve taken twenty years, but I was starting to get arthritis in my knees from jumping off that overpass in 2016-“

“’Arthritis’, my ass,” Window snorted, still professionally.

“My ‘A.C.L.’s, my ass. And you’re starting to sound like Ben.”

“I’ve only worked with the man for forty years. How on earth could that happen?”

“Magic,” Emir said flatly, feeling his oats. Window continued, still seeming like himself; cheery.

“I’ve worked with you for ten. I think your intuition is rubbing off on me.”

Window seemed preoccupied then…and worried.

“You’re giving Ben a series of heart attacks. I hope you know this, and hold yourself accountable.”

“Completely. Now where is he?”

Window chuckled.

“What, they can’t wait an extra ten minutes?”

“From what I understand,” Emir started. “-And correct me if I’m wrong – they could wait an extra ten decades, if necessary.” Emir watched Win. The man shrugged, seeming non-plussed.

“On the whole,” he said. “The science is still being gauged. But, that’s a good ballpark to start in, I guess.”

“Is that supposed to be funny?”

“Yes,” Window retorted. “Why aren’t you laughing?”

Emir massaged his temples without looking remotely stressed.

“You can tell me if Ben stopped at Bombers’.”

“’Stopped’? How about ‘docked’? And, really…would I have had to tell you at all? He called out for the rest of the day. And…the rest of the week…to start. I didn’t have the heart to scold him. This is changing his life by leaps and bounds, Emir.”

“’I’m not only the President…I’m also a client’.”

Window ignored the comment.

“I don’t know what we’re going to tell people. The entire Facility is going to be in a fitting uproar.”

“Try ‘upheaval’.”

“You-? Well, you’d know, wouldn’t you?”

“I’d know.’

“Really, Emir. What’s the rush? We could take months to prep the Fields. Rumors will spread about the name being literal.”

“Rumors have always been spread about that.”

“I wonder why. My ‘thirties’ precede me.”

“Wait until I’m ‘eighty’, and you’re ‘ninety-two’. Then we’ll win some bets.”

“You’ll still look forty. And, unfortunately, our I.D.s will still be glorious, government issue fakes.”

“You mean, we can’t go to Vegas?”

Emir’s sense of humor finally reared its ugly, well-earned head. Window exhaled hard.

“If I make it to ‘ninety-two’, I’ll take the whole damn Fields to Vegas.”

“I think you’ll make it to ‘ninety-two’, Window.”

“And I’ll still get play.”

“Shell will love that premise, I’m certain.”

“Who did you think I was referring to? I hope she’ll still have mercy on me fifteen years from now.”

“Is that what you call it?

“I have more exciting terms,” Window joked. “But…yes. She calls it a ‘proper flogging’.”

“Well, now…that’s a new one. Thirty years, this year?”

Window beamed.

“Mmm…just after Kavi’s twentieth. It flies, doesn’t it?” Emir seemed to stifle a grimace.

“Like an eagle.”

“Sounds like a political angle to me.”

“How about Steve Miller?,” Emir smiled.

“I don’t know how Dan is going to handle it.”

“I don’t know how we’re going to handle Dan.”

“Forty years of prescription breakthroughs, that’s how. And sedation. A great deal of sedation.”

Emir was unsurprised.

“That was the plan, overall.” He thought. Noticed Window’s stance had changed a bit.

“He’ll understand, Win. And not just about this.”

“Shell cried – no, sobbed – for three hours after I told her. Three. I couldn’t gauge it at all.”

“I could tell you, but you wouldn’t believe me.”

“Give it a go, Emir.”

“It was relief. Hope for a chance at resolving things.”

“Ah,” Window mused. “Maybe I’d like to believe you.”

Emir put his hands in his pockets, oddly for him.

“Has she arrived in Chicago, yet?”

“Yes. It’s…been hard on her, despite all hope. She hasn’t seen him in forty-two- no, forty-three years…and she was on that bullet train so fast-“

“She’s coming home to you, Win.”

Window seemed touched by some relief at Emir’s words.

“You’d know, wouldn’t you?”

“I’d know.”

“Things are complicated enough without me being married to Dan’s partner’s wife.”

“Well, you should have thought of that.” Emir inhaled sharply, breathed out. Kept his hands firmly in his pockets.

“I hate you,” Win said.

“You realize…death still terminated marriage legally in the 90’s…right?”

“Your point is?”

“Dead partners equal eligible widows?”

“You’re making me ill, Emir. You do know that, don’t you.”

“I’m trying to lighten the mood a little-“

“-And returned from the dead partners-“

“-don’t reinstate marriage. I’d say you were in a good seat.”

“Yes…,” Window groaned. “The hot seat. How will Dan handle that?”

“He won’t. Not for a time.” Emir seemed his usual, all-knowing self. Which meant he actually did know, and wasn’t ruminating. “Dan needs to adjust to a life of his own before dealing with that kind of conflict.”

“You’re the one with the ‘third eye’. I should hope you have the inside track.”

“I have a 24-hour, fully lit and sometimes inside track. I think that’s one better.”

“I hate you.”

“I know you do. And I don’t fire people because of that.”

“You’d be employee-less.”

“And you’d be short a partner. Where the hell is he, Window? Hatred is going to be moot, and his vacation extended if he doesn’t get his ass down here.”

“Shouldn’t you know where he is, O Great and Powerful Oz?”

“Clairvoyant. Not psychic. Difference.”

“Explain then, how you won that bet over the war effort again?”

That wasn’t being psychic. That…was having the inside track.”



There was a comfortable silence for nearly five minutes after that. The warm surroundings accented the marble tables strewn with exactly seven stasis bags; they were labeled somehow without a sense of morbidity. The one closest to Emir bore the most pressing validity. Its label read in bold print:

Harman Smith. DOB: unknown. DOR: pending.