The LION Programs are a series of DARK INC projects designed to develop genetically, technologically, mentally, and physically superior supersoldiers as the primary Freelancers in the DARK military services.
The concept of the LION program has been around in many nations minds since the 21st century, when bioengineering first became viable. Since the establishment of this technology, humans have been attempting to create performance enhancing equipment and augmentations to improve combat effect over the traditional warrior. The LION program first arose as a plan to enhance normal soldiers into more powerful augmented special freelance commandos. Initially there where two main separate programs, with a third sub program being added a few years later. These separate programs where DARK’s main effort to create the perfect soldier, in order to serve their clients interests, as well as to protect DARK’s assets.
The LION operatives of DARK are named partly for the “King of beasts”, the earth mammal- The Lion. Lions, being incredibly strong and quick, majestic and sly, fit the intended result of the program. Secondarily, the parallel program, NEMEAN(Both launched under the project name: “Freelance I”) –which was developing a combat skin system- coupled with their name to refer to the Nemean Lion of Greek mythos, a powerful beast that was unmatched in combat, and untouchable with any weapon.
The training system also reflects how a Lioness trains her cubs; through brutal experience and teaching. While some considered this barbaric, it was arranged out of necessity.
The LION program began in 2140 with the launch of the FREELANCE I project. This was launched by DARK in response to growing threats to their way of life and business model.
The aim was to create a soldier faster, stronger, and better than anything before placed on the battlefield. The initial beginnings of the FREELANCE project were all volunteers from the existing military- these few candidates for the project went through numerous tests, procedures, and augmentations. However, these initial results were far less effective than hoped, and the candidates were re-seeded into the military, with the LION program terminated.
In 2150, the Research and Development department of DARK, known as Aperture, relaunched the LION initiative. The new goal was to learn from the mistakes of the first attempt, and create a new system for soldiers for any and all operations that DARK could be hired for. The project was headquartered in a small facility on the other side of Kano from the primary complex of DARK.
The main proposal for the project detailed radical changes in many fields. The first (and one of the most controversial) was the subjects, who were selected by a candidate gene-pool, and had to fit into a certain age restriction. They also had to possess superior physical and mental capacities. The trainees must be given militaristic values, an understanding of war; which is something that cannot be taught to an enlisted soldier. These requirements narrowed down the candidates to children who could be raised and taught in the art of war and martial values from a young age.
Despite the risks and unethical means this presented to creating soldiers, the LION project was given the green light for the “Greater good”. In 2152, 250 suitable candidates where identified, and the children (all 7 years old, and of both genders) where brought into the program.
These “LION-I’s” where sedated and taken to the previously mentioned facility, and began their training under a man known to the Lions as “Omally”. To marginalize the civilian lives they once led, their names became a combination of their original first name, and a military call number. (For example: Wayne-S12, AKA Whiskey-Sigil 12)
The LION-I’s endured a great deal of hardship during their early training: they where placed into situations and drills that pushed their abilities to the absolute limit, then pushed harder. Their hard training was complemented with a very high level education that included Science, Reading, Writing, Tactics, and Mathematics. Although Omally’s training was tough, or even brutal, he instilled Honor, Discipline, and Respect in the Lions. He taught them the most efficient way to kill, but at the same time taught them Right and Wrong. However, his most powerful methods where training the LION's to make use of their Rage. Omally trained them until 2159, when, at age 14, they would go through one of the toughest parts of their training and development: The augmentation which would kill 30 of them.
Although in a state of unconsciousness, a state in which the subjects should not feel any pain, the effects of the augmentation produced excruciating pain. The Physiological stress of the process caused 3 to go into cardiac arrest, in addition to cross-chemical complications to result in augmentation failure.
Each procedure was marked with a different set of unbearable pain: The carbide ceramic ossification was later said to feel like every bone in the subjects body was breaking, and as if their marrows where made of glass being shattered.
The catalytic thyroid implant and muscular enhancements produced extraordinary pain: as if the subject’s veins where injected with napalm and plasma. The muscles increasing in density was said to feel like the body was on fire mixed with feeling of glass shattering and being ground into their body. Even today the LION-I’s cannot describe the fabrication of the neural dendrites.
The side effects varied, as the brain relearned how to move with greater reflexes and strength. As well as experiencing neurological confusion that includes exaggerated reflexes, and holding onto objects. The subjects also sometimes experienced bleeding, pain, and constant headaches.
As time went on, the effects disappeared, or to a point that they are no longer registered by the brain.
Within only a few months of augmentation, the LION’s where noted of being able to run at speeds exceeding 50 km/h. Some where able to run even faster with assistance of the NEAMEAN armor system. LION-I’s have been shown to be able to lift three times their body weight which is considerable due to the added weight of the ceramic augmentations, in addition to their increased muscle density.
A LION-I’s reaction time is currently impossible to chart accurately, but is estimated to be in the realm of 15 milliseconds. Reaction times are significantly faster in combat or with AI assistance in NEMEAN suits. LION’s reaction times are so fast that they think, see, and react to events that they see in slow motion. LION-I’s are also shown to be able to virtually see in the dark.
Omally states that after augmentation, the LION’s only will get better and better, as they adjust to the augmentation. Therefore, their attributes have increased over time, independent of any armor system, which further augments their abilities.
After the graduation of the first “Class” of LION-I’s, DARK began planning for another wave of LION’s, albeit with some improvements in the program.