|“||Great, more problems. Can't you see I'm trying to launch an invasion here?||„|
Praetor Steven Berry, code named Neuron, is an antagonist of City of Heroes. While initially introduced hero-side after the game's counter point City of Villains, came out, Neuron is expanded upon greatly in the game's final additional sister game Going Rogue. Going Rogue allowed players to start off in the alternate reality of Praetorian Earth - in the pre-established arcs a reality where the heroes of Paragon City decided to use their powers to take over the world rather than protect it. Like all such Praetorian versions of the game's signature heroes, Neuron wishes, among other things, to take over Primal Earth, as they call it. But even among his allies and fellow Praetors Neuron was always the least trustworthy member of the Praetors.
Neuron ≠ SynapseIn the City of Heroes main reality of "Primal Earth", heroic players are sure to meet Synapse, the super-speedster with a strong grudge against Crey Industries for torturing him for weeks on end in their gene-splicing experiments. Crey has never paid for those crimes and covered up all evidence to officially corroborate Berry's story, so Synapse uses the powers Crey gave him to protect other normal citizens from meeting a similar fate by being abducted and abused by the callous company or others like them. After helping fight the alien invasion against the Rikti, Synapse and his friend Raymond Keyes, code named Positron, a former Crey scientist who quit when he found out what they were doing to his friend, were welcomed to join the Freedom Phalanx as official heroes of Paragon City.
In Praetoria Steven Berry's story is a bit different. Berry always wanted to be a great scientist but was unable due to the collapsing infrastructure of the city at the time. He was good friends with Raymond Keyes in his reality as well. Dr. Keyes was a scientist, like his Primal Earth counter-part and Berry used the connection to observe other scientists and did his best to imitate them. Eventually Steven created his own experiments, though not an officially licensed doctor of any kind, he created a harness that would supposedly give him great intellect by increasing his nervous system response time, it worked better than expected and his entire nervous system was able to function at incredulous speeds granting him movement at speeds far faster than anything thought possible.
Becoming a Praetor
With Steven Berry's dreams of genius realized he would come to be tested in a great event that came to be known as The Hamidon War. A geneticist named Hamidon, who had ecological concerns would inadvertently mutate himself into a massive amoeba-like creature with elemental control and the ability to give off spores that took over the minds of other life-forms and mutated them into elemental monstrosities sharing in Hamidon's will. Hamidon exists in both Primal and Praetoria's reality, but while the heroes of Paragon have fought off their version of Hamidon successfully, in Praetoria the hive-minded Devouring Earth, minions of Hamidon, managed to catch Paragon unawares. For in Praetoria the Rikti did not invade, the creatures were from their own reality and so they could only cross-over into one other reality, but in so doing Hamidon was forced to wait for a more opportune time to strike and the heroes of Paragon found him before he did, preventing the invasion. In Praetoria, since there was no Rikiti invasion, Hamidon invaded instead, striking at man-kind in the name of the planet. Hamidon's strike was devastating. The elemental giants of the Devouring Earth struck all major cities. The spores they gave off infected and converted many who, turned-on and killed the rest.
Marcus Cole, lead the charge against the Devouring Earth, as his counter-part, Statesman, had lead against the Rikti and called for all able bodied meta-humans to join in. Cole had in both realities ushered in a new age of super-humans by releasing Pandora's box after finding the fabled Well of the Furies - the Well made him a demi-god, and the box released all the bound-up potential in humanity, leading to various strings of fortune which lead to the meta-human explosion. With Cole as a symbol who was leading the counter-attack, the Praetorian meta-humans joined in the fight, along with formal militaries to drive back the Devouring Earth. Neuron and Dr. Keyes, who went by the code-name Anti-Matter, were some of the stronger meta-humans and joined Cole on his personal attack team. Cole gained something of a victory but in a stalemate, most of the world was over-run with Hamidon's forests, but the beast had learned not to press the attack any further-in and what few cities remained were safe. Cole stepped forward to declare himself emperor of the remainder of human civilization, claiming only he could protect them and the previous world governments clearly were either too weak or already destroyed and thus he would lead the remainder of civilization. Cole reached out to those who had fought by his side to join him, those on his personal task-force were made Praetors of the new society he named after the Roman statesman/generals "Praetoria".
Preator BerryNeuron soon dropped his code-name, preferring the prestigious title of "Praetor Berry". Unlike many others, Berry was not overcome with any sort of tragedy at what had happened, because he was overwhelmed with opportunity, he would have the chance to carve out a new society largely in his own image. Berry was assigned Cole's head of urban renewal - redesigning and literally rebuilding society. Praetor Berry and Praetor Keyes were Cole's top scientists, however Berry did not want to be one of the best scientists, but rather -the- best scientist. Neuron began subverting Keyes at every turn, when Keyes began forming an invention, with a little base observation Berry would mentally put-together the project first, then actually put it together in a flash and present it as his own. This caused the two to go from friends to rivals and soon enemies, though officially still both colleagues. When Berry saw Keyes carrying on an affair with Emperor Cole's grand-daughter, Megan, Duncan AKA, Dominatrix, Berry set-up Keyes to admit his feelings for her in-front of the Emperor, but Praetor Duncan, being a manipulative vixen played ignorant and so Keyes looked not only like someone who was stirring up trouble with Berry but, was also someone willing to besmirch the Emperor's grand-daughter, and had lusty ambitions for her, as a result Cole removed Keyes's Praetor title and began relying solely on Berry for scientific advice.
With his place secured, Berry began selling the people of his newly built city his services. Berry's company was named after his original code-name, Neuron Technologies Unlimited. Berry helped new businesses rise from the ashes of civilization, the whole time swiping the best of their ideas in passing, much as he had done to Keyes, along with of-course charging exorbitant prices to fund his continued research. At the end of the reconstruction, the city built around Praetor Berry's headquarters would be named Neutropolis after the company.
Praetor Berry will reach out to Loyalists players (those who chose to ply their abilities for the city, as opposed to Resistance players who fight to end Cole's regime). However Berry will only reach out to Power Loyalists (players whose pursuits are for personal prestige, not the safety of Praetoria). When encountered Praetor Berry is working on a new type of soldier, the genetic clone of Emperor Cole, The Olympian - so named because Cole had a propensity for Greek folk-lore and with Cole's power being reconstituted from Zeus, he whole-hardheartedly approved of the name and concept. The player will aid Berry in his experiments, but being as self-serving as Berry, the player will begin conspiring to make a name for him/her/it-self rather than be a go-fer. When Berry has the player recover a cybernetic brain for the clone-slug, the player will go to ask Keyes for help sabotaging it. Anti-Matter, while having no real fondness for any of Berry's lackeys, will take the opportunity and agrees to sabotage the brain. Keyes will give the player an up-link to install in Berry's automation, IVy, and use her as an alternate computer system so nothing can be traced back to either him or the player. Olympian eventually goes berserk and at the worst possible time, while impersonating Emperor Cole for PR duties on Cole's behalf. When discovering the blunder Berry is worried he will be blamed and scrambles to lead the player to defeat The Olympian. Emperor Cole is livid that "He" apparently went wild in a public event, killing many civilians. Praetor Berry placates Cole with "the completely legitimate report" that The Resistance made some sort of clone of Cole and used it to cause havoc and both Cole and Berry wait for their media front-men to spin the story, never-the-less Cole wants The Olympian destroyed and Berry's project shut down.
Neuron has major reservations about Emperor Cole's orders. He informs the player that the story will be that The Olympian has been dealt with so the major threat is at an end. Meanwhile, he still intends to perfect the cloning process and try again once he figures out what had gone wrong. The player's final mission is a moral choice, either to destroy Synapse's cloning lab - which will hamper his further research but also allow him to get away scot-free with no evidence, or inform Emperor Cole of Berry's scheme, which will allow Berry to keep his resources but permanently expose him as the petty place-seeker he has been for years. Working for Praetor Berry is the final arc of the Praetorian story-line along the Power Loyalist alignment and so when completed, the player is sent to Primal Earth via portal to serve Praetorian interests. Either the player is sent as a proven friend of the empire by informing Cole, or as a useful pawn which has demonstrated enough patriotism to be excused for the mission to conquer Primal Earth. Either way, once completed the player will remove all ties with Praetor Berry and go to the alternate reality of Primal Earth to make a name for themselves. While on Primal Earth, the corruption of the Praetorians becomes apparent, even that of Emperor Cole, who had actually made a pact with Hamidon in the first place where it could rule the wilderness and Cole the Cities, thus making even loyal Praetorians enemies of their manipulative government.
Invading Primal EarthThe previous arcs for Praetorians are still available from the contact Tina Macintyre though images and descriptions were updated with the release of Going Rogue rounding out Praetorian backgrounds. In this operation, Keyes has found the extra dimensional signal used by Portal Corp, a research center who had invented portals that could explore alternate realities, back-traced the signals and tapped into them remotely to allow himself and all the other Praetorians to conquer Primal Earth. Neuron and his girl-friend, Bobcat, Praetorian version of Synapse's side-kick Mynx, both are heading the attack to sabotage security and steal data on Primal Earth. Both are defeated twice and imprisoned after. Over the course of the invasion the two manage to escape thanks to Cole's elite Praetorian guards.
The final confrontation with Neuron and Bobcat is for Tin Mage II's Task-force. Tin Mage II is an artificial intelligence created by Positron. Tin Mage II, is so named because it is based on the design of the A.I. super-hero, Tin Mage, who was destroyed in a suicide mission to end the Rikti War. Tin Mage II has been monitoring the situation in Praetoria and discovers Neutropolis's has a massive army of Clockwork robots, standing ready for an the immanent invasion. Neuron and Bobcat are arming the last of the titanic Goliath War-Walker class clockwork. Tin Mage II sends the players to dismantle the army and defeat Neuron once and for all.
Tin-Mage II's Task-Force is the last time Neuron is encountered in a story line. Keyes and Emperor Cole refer to him in the past tense when encountered in the task-forces organized against them, implying Neuron and Bobcat are not simply defeated but gone for good. No indication is given if this means that they are imprisoned somewhere beyond Cole's inter-dimensional reach, or dead. This is later confirmed in Mr. G's late-game story arc. Mr. G wants to recreate Praetoria's worst of the worst, all with no place to go, and all anxious to rebuild their power. One of his recruits is Neuron, but Neuron is no longer in lock-up after the invasion, only Bobcat. Bobcat says they were both completely drained of their powers after the effects of the Well of the Furies left them, as both were genetically modified and thus the Well absorbed more than intended and took even their augmented powers when it faded. When Bobcat attempted to console Neuron, saying at-least they had each-other, Neuron lashed out at her claiming he never loved her and he thought of her as a thug he could emotionally and sexually control. In response Bobcat had killed him in a rage. With Praetor Berry, dead, Mr. G. settles for Bobcat, for even without powers she knows much about Neuron's work and security measures to raid the remnants of Praetoria. Once Bobcat joins she states she does not regret the murder, only that she was ever involved with him.
Powers and AbilitiesThanks to his device, Neuron was able to think at super-speeds, as an unexpected side-effect he can also run at super-speeds and the friction he takes builds up as potentially lethal level of static electricity. Like Synapse, Neuron's main power in combat is his electrical blasts with a follow-up ability of martial-arts, due to the high speeds at which his melee attacks strike. Neuron and Synapse have the same otherwise unique ability, their super-speed ability is both always on and costs no endurance - something that players steadily burn their powers keeping active. Neuron has built every manner of dangerous inventions due to his increased brain-activity. While his drysuit is high enough quality to protect him from traditional harm, it is largely no match for most super-humans on the same level as him. With Anti-Matter on something of a unofficial exile, most of the combat-ready Clockwork of Praetoria are under Neuron's control. With his army of thinking, though unfeeling, automatons Neuron is most feared due to his armies instead of what he can do personally. His relative fragility compared to other Praetorians is why he keeps Bobcat around him whenever he enters combat situations.
- Though he is the alternate version of Synapse, Neuron actually shares more traits in common with the Primal Earth Doctor Aeon - who is also a scatterbrained and mad scientist who owns his own company, works for an oppressive overlord as his "pet mad scientist" and rebuilt a slum as a bustling metropolis with his company at the literal and figurative center.
- Neuron's original design was just of Synapse with some chains on, but with the Introduction of Going Rogue, he is given a new blue and white color scheme and made albino as a side effect of his device.
- Neuron is in an open sexual relationship with Bobcat. However, in Primal Earth, Mynx is officially Synapse's side-kick and nothing more, however background lore hints the two are carrying on a secret affair.
- While Bobcat has emotional attachment to Neuron, Neuron never gives off any indication he is interested in Bobcat outside of sex.