*Name: Drew Dyson
*Party Role: Paperwork Wizard/Bureaucrat Wrangler/Interrogator/Distraction
At first glance, Drew Dyson appears not to fit in with either of the basic three groups found in the Shift. Despite being dressed in de rigueur “business tactical” of solid color thick polo, khaki cargo pants, hiking boots, and ballistic nylon rigger’s belt, he is not a “tactical” Shift member like the military servicemembers and law enforcement officers the Shift prefers to recruit. Despite holding his own in academic debates and easily gaining the trust of others, he is not a “civilian” like the truly academic witnesses and oddly talented survivors the Shift finds and recruits as possible. Despite being on speaking terms with most of the Shift’s briefers and coordinators--and knowing several of them quite well professionally--he is not a member of the Shift’s “brass”.
And his features continue this pattern. A thoroughly average-looking thirtyish, 5 foot, 9 inches and 198 pound male with close-cropped brown hair and a mustache-goatee combination. But the hair has a large pure blotch at either temple, there are fine white streaks throughout, the goatee is more white than black, and while he is clearly fit, his edges are definitely rounded by a small but notable layer of fat. Newer law enforcement and military recruits into the Shift have been understandably mistaken in thinking that the “federal-standard” black windbreaker with “ODNI” standing out in sharp white-lettered relief on the left breast and across its back is simply his attempt at blending in with the plethora of federal agencies…and they are not wrong. But while they think that Dyson had the windbreaker made so that he feels like he fits in, they are wrong. New recruits also think that the SigSauer P229R 9mm with a illuminator riding its Picatinny rail that rides comfortably in a tactical holster on his right hip (and the two 13-round magazines riding balancing it on his left hip) were given to him so that he feels secure.
It is about WHY he “fits” in new recruits would be wrong. He had the windbreakers made to allow himself and his ODNI coworkers to easily, smoothly work with and gain the trust of other federal agencies. His P229 does bring him comfort, but it is the comfort of a long-trusted and used tool that a craftsman knows the exact feel and capabilities of…a tool that has yet to fail him. And if anyone observes Drew Dyson longer than the standard human “quick snapshot”, more and more features stand out.
This is a man who--other than in VERY select company--wears mirrorshade sunglasses from the first moment he steps into public after waking up to the last moment he steps out of public before he goes to sleep. And despite those shades, he is relatively aware of most sights or sounds that take place around him, day or night, regardless of the weather. His awareness is reflected in his balanced stance, his slight readjustments at all visually apparent or audibly perceptible activities that take place within five to ten meters of him. His awareness is more in-line with that of a severely-traumatized military veteran or highly-trained bodyguard, yet the actions are so instinctive to him anymore that it takes up very little of his attention…and he is barely aware of it. This ever-present air of alertness and never-absent sunglasses allows operatives of law enforcement, military, and HUMINT intelligence backgrounds to understand him to a great enough degree to work together.
His love of science-fiction and fantasy novels, his easy familiarity with most things “geek”, his curious projected mixture of nonjudgmental trust and constant behavioral analysis, and the mild but noticeable stiffness in his back allows the operatives of academic, intelligence analysis, occult, specialist, or even random bystander that the Shift ends up recruiting to connect enough to him to be able to trust him professionally. And the brass trusts him because of his history of being blunt and as truthful as possible…which he somehow manages to project as well.
Should people ever see him with his shirt off, most are shocked that he is alive. The thick scar tissue covers almost all of his back, starting from just below the coccyx and stretching its thinnest tendrils to just past the hairline on the back of his neck. His subtle fluidity and grace of movement is a legacy of this scar; in order to keep it limber, Dyson has to perform yoga for at least half an hour every day. Being himself, he does an hour of yoga every day in order to maintain his edge.
As for his eyes…he covers his eyes not because of some horrible injury or odd, freaky effect from some eldritch abomination which he survived. He covers his eyes primarily because so he can look people in the eyes without the weight of horror, insanity, and death he has survived (relatively sane) causing the majority of them to gasp, look away, or (in the case of the truly faint-hearted) flee (occasionally by fainting). The side effect that he can scan an entire room without anyone being aware of where he is looking is just a “silver lining”.
As his duties have never required it, he never really mastered the art of “blending in” and being unobtrusive in a crowd, and thus is normally fairly easy to spot. When sleeping, he would be a near-perfect definition of “peaceful” if not for the holstered P229 firmly and immovably clenched in his right hand (usually under his pillow). His hair is trimmed almost as short as the average US Paratrooper’s “high and tight”, although his curly mustache-goatee combination is quite thick. He looks rather dashing in formal wear, although the majority of fellow Shift members make him look quite plain, given that most tend to “ripped”, “cut”, “stacked’n’packed”, or just plain “smokin’ hot”. Sadly, he just cannot bring himself to spend more than merely the necessary time maintaining his physical abilities--other than shooting, at which he is not that talented but loves anyway--as the pursuits of the mind are FAR more to his interest.
Raised as an only child until he was eleven, Drew’s parents raised him to be an intelligent, accepting, thinking child. Due to his parents’ families’ proud traditions and his parents’ belief in the supreme usefulness of intellectual talents regardless of a situation, Drew grew up speaking three languages, very familiar with cuisines from most of the world, and able to intelligently discuss current world events with his parents’ guest by the time he was 10. Of course, by the time he was 10 he could also run a mile in 7 minutes 15 seconds, knock-out 50 push-ups in a minute, 50 sit-ups in a minute, 10 pull-ups, field-strip a basic 1911A1 and reassemble it in 1 minute 30 seconds, and put 14 .45ACP rounds from the same 1911A1 in to a tennis-ball-sized group in the sniper’s triangle at 7 meters in 22 seconds. He maintained--or improved, in the case of the marksmanship and weapons maintenance--the same standards until after his bad jump while in the US Army.
Despite a physical training regime a fair number of people would assume was part of a militia training program, Drew enjoyed and excelled in an environment where he was pushed. His meeting with Amanda Lee Vechiory when he was 5 and she was 7 bound the two as closest friends--effectively brother and sister--for life…as fierce but friendly competitors. That was mostly based around her notably (but not massively) greater physical aptitude and his notably (but not massively) greater intellectual aptitude. Despite the expectations of everyone EXCEPT his parents, they never had any romantic attraction to each other.
When he entered government service he was a friendly, relatively outgoing, warm, intelligent young man who preferred to avoid violence whenever possible and stayed more alert than your average just-legal adult, but not noticeably so.
By the time the Shift releases him from full-time security-management instructor to field-duty and as-needed instructor, Drew Dyson was a cold, constantly-alert (outside of sleep) man who maintained a constant detachment from all professional contacts, was still not that well-known by the “gaming geeks” that he hangs out with off-duty, and is only truly known by those he calls “family”. He had become a man who slept with his trusty (holstered) SigSauer clenched in hand under his pillow, who wore mirrored sunglasses so his eyes would not unsettle most of the people he spoke to or looked at. He had become a man who effectively did not fear death or all but the most extreme torture, for he had seen far, far worse. He was a man who did NOT drink for fear of suffering horrid flashback nightmares. He was a man that saw his sisters in person or on webcam no more than two weeks a year if he could help it because that was all the time he could keep the pain, horror, and sheer sociopathic detachment from showing.
Of course, in the Shift, he is not alone. Not all are like him…but quite a few are.
He places absolute ethical priority on five things (in this exact order): Loyalty to the US Constitution, Whatever his current Sworn Duty happens to be, taking care of those he considers his Family (includes several various military co-workers from various times and, of course, his younger sisters), US National Security, and taking care of his “Brothers/Sisters in Arms”. He also does not condone any form of sex criminal, and hates all but the most “humane” human trafficker with a passion. He also is known for telling the truth, following the rules unless he cannot achieve the mission by doing so, and being extraordinarily competent in his core fields.
Born on December 21, 1985--which was the Winter Solstice--in Seattle, Washington, a Greek OB/GYN participating in a hospital exchange program delivered him after a complicated Cesarean Section. As she handed him to his mother, she suffered a brief precognitive moment (the family line of the OB/GYN had included many seers and wise women) in which she predicted that Drew was “Truly Winterborn to Face the Things Outside What Humanity Is Meant To Know”. The OB/GYN had no memory of this, and Drew’s parents liked to tell the story, thinking nothing of it. Notably, Drew NEVER complained of “monsters” when he was growing up…
As noted above, Drew’s parents encouraged a mentally and physically developed child, well-versed in several languages (in this case due his mother being a second-generation Chinese-American and his father being a second-generation Egyptian-American), physically fit, and relatively self-dependent. While his parents made him well-aware they loved him, his parents had to return to their normal duties (instead of instructors) as an US Army Special Forces Weapons Sergeant and an FBI China-Focused Special Agent in the Counter-Intelligence Division after he had turned 5. To help with his socializing (and because only one of them was usually home at a time) they introduce him to 7-year old Amanda Lee Veriochy…they became fast--although intensely competitive--lifelong friends.
Once his polyzygotic younger triplet sisters were born when he was 11, he split his time between school (where his studies were advancing at a rapid rate) and helping his parents with his siblings (for which he was paid the same wage as equivalently-qualified childcare professional; he quickly gained all the education and training he could to make decent wage). In what little personal time he got for the next five years, he played as many tabletop RPG and wargames as he could, read a large number of science-fiction and fantasy novels, and spent all the time he could squeeze in on a range. At sixteen, he graduated from high school valedictorian (closely followed by Class President Amanda Lee Veriochy) and proceeded onto the University of Washington and managed to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology in a little over 2 years. Both him and Amanda joined Army Military Intelligence as Interrogators (he as a Mandarin-Arabic Linguist, her as a Farsi Linguist) and opted to be Airborne.
They both ended up going through Basic Training at Fort Leonard Wood, both went through Interrogator AIT at Fort Huachuca and both passed Airborne School at Fort Benning together. They were both then sent to 2d Brigade, 82d Airborne Division, Fort Bragg; they ended up making every airborne jump together, right up until both won the competition for a “sweet” helicopter jump as their 11th Airborne Jump. She left the helicopter first…but he hit the ground first. HARD.
His main parachute suffered a “catastrophic harness retention failure” (it tore off of the harness he was wearing when the static line jerked onto to open it) and then suffered a “nonfunctional reserve chute deployment Category C” (he popped his reserve chute and it opened into a non-lifting cigarette roll) that he “rapidly recovered into a partially-effective chute deployment” (no one, including him, knows how) before “experiencing a theoretically fatal non-standard parachute landing fall involving heavy foliage obstructions” (he hit the trees very hard). Nine months of reconstructive surgery and rehabilitation later, and he was released to light duty and transferred to Division Headquarters; he still had another 12 months of rehabilitation. During his long stay in the hospital, he had refreshed his Mandarin and Arabic skills to stave off boredom.
Due to being limited to desk duty, he was taught how to properly perform Security Manager duties. He quickly mastered them, then started learning all the related fields, such as the underlying laws, Force Protection, how to conduct inspections, and how to properly courier information from point to point. He also began learning Russian during this time in order to keep his mind occupied, and yoga to restore flexibility into his heavily damaged and scarred back.
He was pulled off of desk duty in order to fill a whole in personnel in his old unit, 2d Brigade, when they deployed to Iraq for “The Surge”. He (barely) managed to meet the qualification and training requirements, and was then deployed to Iraq. He was reunited with his best friend, Amanda; shortly after arriving in-theater, they were both tapped to support Special Operations in Iraq. At the end of 15 months, both he and Amanda returned Stateside, and were then promptly rotated to other assignments; Drew ended up assigned to an MP unit at Fort Lewis…
After six months of increasingly resistant staff and numerous serious security violations, Drew stopped covering for his command and turned them over--along with his copious and thorough notes--to Army Counter-Intelligence. This earned him a reputation as a “straight arrow that cleans up messes” and the utter hatred of several relieved and early-retired Army Senior Officers…and a guarantee never to be promoted past Specialist (which he had come in as due to college). He was then rotated to Fort Gordon’s “No Such Agency” command.
Meeting several different people who became “family” from all of the services, as well as making contacts throughout the Federal Government, Drew excelled at his job despite his low rank. He spent his last two years in the Army effectively running Fort Gordon’s Security Programs, making sure that all the paperwork was done properly and everything was “taken care of”. He left with a Meritorious Service Medal…and a job offer from a couple contacts at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
He accepted the job--basically doing the same thing, only for an even larger scale--and proved his competence. Due to the nature of the information he was privy to, as well as his frequent courier assignments, the ODNI secured him a Federal Carry Permit (and the training to go with it); this allowed him to carry a sidearm anywhere except a prison, a closed psychiatric ward, or anywhere a US Secret Service Protective Detail asked him to surrender his sidearm. (The training just refreshed the fundamentals his parents had taught him, although he finally mastered the art of quickly drawing and reloading.) He enjoyed a relatively quiet six months, and then was assigned to audit a pair of linked black operations--DIVINE LUGE and DEVIANT FLUME--that were a joint DARPA/CDC project started in the seventies.
He was told that had something to do with “soldier force multipliers”, that his old friend Amanda--now a Warrant Officer--was running the DIA/MP unit that was going to help audit the old bunker, and that it “should be a cakewalk”.
Drew has been working for the Shift every since. The first year he taught his extensive knowledge of paperwork, how to hide information in classification, and bureaucracy circumvention to various Shift members. The last 18 months, however, he has been primarily working as a “plug’n’play” field asset for any team that looks like it needs paper trails fixed, bureaucrats soothed/distracted/run-in-circles, and an impromptu legal advisor.
He lives from hotel to hotel, mainly driving across the country; he has been living out of his car for the last 18 months, having sold his apartment when he was assigned to field duty and the ODNI (with subtle prodding from the Shift) began using him as their favorite roving Classified Program Auditor. Notably, he normally only has the magazine in his weapon, the two magazines on his belt, and two more magazines in the Suburban loaded; he keeps twenty-six loose 9mm rounds in case he needs to load the two spare magazines.
Since his younger sisters are attending college in Athens, his “family” still working in Georgia (primarily at Fort Gordon) keep an eye on them.