From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
This article about a character is a stub -- a small, but growing, work in progress. If you're the creator of this character, why not consider expanding it?
Background and Education
Darren Slade was born on April 9th, 1936 in Mount Arlington, New Jersey. He attended Hillsdale High School and was salutatorian of his graduating class. He attended college at University of Michigan, where he earned his doctorate. Slade worked as a scientist for Westinghouse Atomic Power on the company's nuclear energy program in the early 1960s. He soon followed many of his college associates to New Mexico for a brief period to work as a research physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. In 1962, he became the chairman of the Accelerator Physics Department of General Atomics, Inc.
By 1964, Slade raised money to start Science Applications, Inc. (SAI) by investing the proceeds from selling stock he had received from General Atomic, combined with funds raised from the early employees who bought stock in his young enterprise. Though the company's initial focus was on the physics of atomic energy, they were soon contracted by the U.S. government for physics weapon study programs.
The Journeyman Project
The deteriorating conditions of the Cold War had ensured that nuclear weapons research was already exhaustively pursued. Pressed for alternative results, SAI began refocusing their physics research into temporal mechanics - time travel. Before the year was out, SAI had broken new ground in chronal manipulation, and were making huge strides in developing a device for the United States military. This device, codenamed 'The Journeysuit', was designed as a full-body armor intended to allow the wearer to traverse through time. SAI's 'temporal division' was relocated to a secret underground lab miles beneath the deserts of New Mexico for the duration of the projects.
Under military supervision, Slade was placed in direct oversight of the Journeyman project, and was chief contributor to a large number of the breakthroughs responsible for the suit's design. With an intimate understanding of the interaction of particles on a subatomic level, Slade was able to begin refinement on a prototype suit by November of 1966.
Profuse testing of the suit followed with less-than-pleasing results, as the designs prototyped by SEI had both massive power requirements and were prone to failure. Following the lack of further success, the United States military threatened to cut all of SAI's funding if they did not provide further tangible results for the Journeyman Project.
Out of Time
Slade saw the failure of his company fast-approaching, and took drastic measures in the next Journeysuit prototype, the Mark IV. By May of 1967, the Mark IV prototype was completed and testing was to begin. This completion coincided with the arrival of top military oversight officials to SAI's underground testing site, where a demonstration of the project's progress was to be made.
Slade, in a show of misplaced confidence, insisted upon demonstrating the suit personally, despite the extremely high probability of personal harm in the event of a malfunction. After donning the armor and equipment and entering the blast-proof test chamber, Slade activated the Journeysuit to only partial capacity in what would be a disastrous incident.
As the laws governing temporal mechanics broke down in the test chamber, the suit rapidly overloaded itself to beyond full capacity. The Journeysuit began moving at an accelerated timeflow relative to the space around it. The friction generated by this chronal differential generated massive amounts of heat at a quantum level, and quickly turned both Slade and the Journeysuit into an atomic fireball. Though the next few seconds registered as only a bright flash for Slade, the suit's activation would appear to those in the normal flow of time as an intense explosion that lasted continually for three days before collapsing into a singularity. The entire underground facility was destroyed almost instantaneously.
Slade manually cut power to the suit as soon as it began to overload, but the mere handful of seconds that the Journeysuit operated beyond full capacity shifted Slade decades into the future and across the United States. Darren Slade regained consciousness in a massive burned-out impact crater in Boomtown, Paragon City, 2004.
Welcome to the Future
The seemingly successful time travel was a groundbreaking achievement for Slade, but one he would soon come to find was largely covered up by the United States government as a 'seismic activity' in the deserts of New Mexico. Slade attempted to reestablish communication with the military to reveal the success of the project, and was subjected to a battery of tests to confirm his identity.
It was a sobering time for Slade. The field of temporal mechanics had been largely left unchanged. Following the disaster, the military's internal hearings declared the research too dangerous for further pursuit, and the Journeyman Project was abandoned; in terms of weaponry, the military had no use for such a device with a nuclear arsenal at its disposal, and the effects of temporal displacement were deemed too unpredictable. The Journeysuit itself had not survived the ordeal unharmed. Following Slade's arrival to 2004, the suit had been rendered largely inoperable. The military allowed Slade to keep the ruined Journeysuit, but expressed in no uncertain terms that he was forbidden from ever attempting to activate it again.
Darren Slade had made history, but his legacy was doomed to be buried in time.
When Slade's attempt at revitalizing the Journeyman Project failed, he spiraled deep into depression. Consumed by guilt over the many lives lost due to his carelessness, he began to obsess over what went wrong during the fateful activation. Following weeks of heavy drinking, Slade had come to a decision: He would complete the Journeyman Project himself, and go back in time to avert the disaster that had ruined his work.
For Slade, Paragon City was the perfect location to resume his work, as it afforded him the opportunity to go relatively unnoticed among its incredible superpowered inhabitants. Assuming the moniker of 'Chronoblaze', he set about applying the remainder of the suit's operating capacity to work as a 'hero'. His endeavors alongside of the heroes of Paragon City provide a lucrative income that helps facilitate research and development into repairing the Journeysuit and the creation of new prototype armors.
Powers, Equipment & Abilities
The Journeysuit is an advanced temporal displacement mechanism that, during successful operation, removes the wearer from the current timeline, allowing them to travel through time. It has undergone a number of iterations during research and development, catalogued below.
Mark I: Ironbound
The Mark I Journeysuit, codenamed the 'Ironbound' by the development researchers at SAI's temporal division, was the company's first concerted effort at creating a temporal displacement suit. This original Journeysuit design is massive and unwieldy, and was a tremendous burden to the wearer. The Ironbound design was also prone to generating massive amounts of heat during preliminary experimental operation, necessitating the addition of a vast network of exhaust vents and cooling cables to keep the suit in operation for even the shortest amount of time. The power required to activate the suit was often responsible for brownouts in the surrounding areas of New Mexico.
The Ironbound exhibited only minimal abilities in temporal manipulation. In testing, it displayed the ability to marginally speed up or slow down time, but only within direct proximity (around 5 feet). It was here that the challenges of temporal displacement were made clear, as the suit very often failed to operate, and when it did it could only function for a few brief moments.
Despite all of the flaws inherent in the design, the Ironbound was considered a relative success due to concisively proving the possibility of temporal manipulation. Following demonstration, the United States military approved the funding of subsequent prototype designs.
Mark II: Lawbreaker
The second iteration of the Journeysuit, codenamed 'Lawbreaker', was a large stride forward for the Journeyman Project. The SEI development team began to experiment with internalizing a large number of the suit's components, as well as increasing the temporal displacement capacities of the suit beyond the Ironbound's meager abilities. A number of top minds in SEI contested that exceeding the limits of the original Ironbound suit was an impossibility due to the danger of both the suit and the wearer being assimilated into the time stream and subsequently destroyed. For a few brief months during the Journeyman Project, this was considered a factual limitation of temporal mechanics, and many researchers concluded that actual time travel was impossible. However, when preliminary experimentation on the Mark II Journeysuit began, the results were astonishing: the Mark II was able to juxtapose itself forward or backwards in time to a projected maximum of 20 minutes. For this reason, although the Mark II Journeysuit was originally termed the 'Collossus', the name 'Lawbreaker' was assigned to the suit following testing.
During experimentation, the suit would be activated and then used to move simple objects such as containers a few moments in the future. When the normal timeflow was restored, these manipulated objects would typically appear to move as if on their own in correspondence with the motions the suit exerted upon them, coinciding with a huge spike in heat on the surface of the object. To the average viewer, this often manifested itself in the test objects floating in the air for a few seconds before melting into slag. The suit itself was often subjected to extreme stresses, and was known to prematurely rust following operation. Testing guidelines prohibited operation in excess of 70% capacity for safety reasons.
The Mark II still possessed massive power requirements and its enormous size made it nearly as difficult to manipulate as the Mark I Ironbound. On the heels of the Mark II's success, the military stipulated that subsequent designs would have to be greatly reduced in size for funding to continue.
Mark III: Corvus
Due to the requirements imposed upon SEI's development division by the United States military, the Mark III 'Corvus' Journeysuit boasted both reduced power consumption needs and a smaller, more mobile design. The suit was also projected to be able to travel a full day forward and backward through time at maximum capacity. Though the Corvus was originally hailed as one of SEI's greatest achievments, testing would prove otherwise. Preliminary trials showed the suit vastly more prone to overheating and overloading, and the reduced design offered little in terms of protection to the wearer from temporal stresses. Many of the test subjects wearing the suit during experimentation would leave the trials with signs of extreme aging.
Trials of the Mark III Journeysuit would conclude with the death of tester Adam Sterling in January of 1966. During the particular incident, the suit unexpectedly spiked towards it's maximum temporal displacement capacity. The malfunction caused a large number of temporal manifestations of Sterling to condense into a simultaneous space and time, generating massive levels of subatomic radiation as the particles attempted to repel from one another. Nothing of Sterling or the Corvus prototype survived the incident, and the Mark III was scrapped.
Mark IV: Harbinger
The Mark IV Journeysuit, codenamed the 'Harbinger', was designed personally by Darren Slade. It's design can be described as part genius and part madness. Gone is a large amount of the technological sophistication, instead relying profusely on the concepts of quantum physics. The Harbinger suit's design relies heavily on a force which would come to be known as 'Cold Fusion' in the late eighties. By generating a controlled and self-sustaining fusion reaction at room temperature, untold amounts of energy could be released or channeled throughout the suit. This power enabled the suit to function self-sufficiently once active, and manifested a strong temporal signature. By using this signature as a reference point for the wearer's location in space and time, the Mark IV Journeysuit was able to continually relocate itself in the time stream and avoid the catastrophic failure that the Mark III underwent. Additionally, the massive amounts of energy generated by the cold fusion reaction of the suit could be directed into a shield that would protect the wearer from the violence of temporal displacement. This resulted in an incredibly reduced suit design that allowed for much greater mobility than previous iterations of the Journeysuit.
A number of researchers at SEI insisted that the use of cold fusion was both dangerous and impossible, as the reaction that powered the suit required substantial energy to activate and the exact physics behind its operation were still not entirely certain. However, Slade pushed the design through to preliminary testing when the Journeyman Project's survival was threatened, despite the astronomical odds that the cold fusion reaction required to power the suit could be achieved.
The Mark IV Suit was the last suit to be produced by the Journeyman Project. During it's first and only test, the Mark IV was able to achieve the cold fusion reaction required to power it. This caused a disaster that destroyed all of SEI's temporal research and development division when the quantum mechanics behind it's operation temporarily deteriorated the laws of physics (see: Out of Time). The Harbinger suit was substantially damaged following Slade's accidental time travel, and when he arrived in 2004 he found it was no longer able to make substantial temporal jumps. However, during testing, Slade discovered the suit's new forte - he could temporarily stop, slow or speed up time around him with the suit active. Additionally, anything that he manipulated in this state would instantly light ablaze due to the extreme friction created by the temporal distortion.
The Mark IV suit is currently the staple of Slade's arsenal, and is the primary outfit of his heroic counterpart, Chronoblaze. Further development into restoring the Mark IV's effectiveness [levelling] has facilitated a great increase in the suit's offensive and defensive capabilities as Slade becomes adept at manipulating the flow of time, channeling the energies into fire and kinetics control. cc
Mark V: Planeswalker
The Mark V Journeysuit, dubbed the 'Planeswalker'. Funded entirely out of pocket by Slade, the suit utilizes a number of principles in the Mark IV's design. Like the Harbinger, the suit is designed primarily around temporal displacement capabilities. However, the Planeswalker could be considered an improvement upon the Mark IV as it includes a large number of new materials and technologies that were developed in Slade's nearly 40 year absence. Due to these innovations, Slade is able to push the Planeswalker suit a bit farther than his previous designs, and can safely come closer to operating at the suit's maximum capacity without incident. The Mark V Journeysuit is also capable of entering into a state known as Chronal Flux.
The suit's offensive and defensive capabilities are otherwise similar to the Mark IV's suit. Slade typically wears a trench coat and baggy pants over the Mark V Journeysuit in an attempt to keep his recent temporal research a secret; he does not wish to attract the attentions of the military to his private endeavors.
Mark VI: Reclaimer
The Mark VI Journeysuit, nicknamed the 'Reclaimer' by Slade, is not designed to attempt temporal travel. Like the preceeding Journeysuit models, the Mark VI is capable of manipulating time to the extent that it allows Slade control over Kinetics. However, the Mark VI Journeysuit instead places a focus squarely on Chronoblaze's heroic activities, enhancing his defense with reflexive armor plating and amplifying his fire control powers. By enhancing these powers, Chronoblaze can more effectively police the streets of Paragon City, providing him with a more efficient way of earning the income required for his research.
Chronal Flux is a dangerous state that can be obtained by the Mark IV and Mark V Journeysuits. It is indicative that the suit is operating near maximum capacity. When in Chronal Flux, the entire Journeysuit ignites in a blue fire that is caused by the strain of the temporal distortion being generated. Chronoblaze's powers are greatly enhanced while in this state, allowing him to unload a devastating arsenal of attacks upon his foes. Maintaining this state for prolonged periods of time is dangerous for both Chronoblaze and those around him, as any further strain on the suit could duplicate the disastrous event originally caused by the Mark IV.
Chronoblaze is able to 'control' fire through the creation of fast-time temporal distortions in targeted areas. These distortions intersect with the normal flow of time, generating incredible amounts of friction at their boundaries. This friction is radiated as intense thermal energy, and can ignite surrounding areas. With these abilities, Chronoblaze is able to surround opponents with flames and hold them in place.
By creating a temporal distortion around the Journeysuit, Chronoblaze is able to manipulate kinetics and move at speeds in excess of 90 miles per hour.
Within the Journeysuit, Slade is simply an average man with no particular protections or abilities.