Sigma Guide, Page 2James Rollins
His current top priority: to uncover the true origins and agenda of The Guild, no matter what it takes.
Painter has been romantically involved with Dr. Lisa Cummings since they shared a perilous adventure a few years ago [BO]. He has recently taken a paternal interest in his college-age “niece” Kai Quocheets after extricating her from a dangerous situation [TDC]. (He’s actually her half-uncle on her father’s side, but it’s easier just to be “Uncle Painter.”) Kai is currently attending classes at Brigham Young University.
Both of his parents are now deceased.
Current rank: Commander
Background: Army Ranger
Specialties: biology and physics.
Lanky black hair. Stormy blue eyes. His hard, angular face, strong jaw, and cleft chin hint at his stony Welsh heritage, while his ruddy complexion is all Texas, burnt by the sun over the dry hills of Brown County. He remains fit and athletic into his thirties. His voice retains a hint of Texas twang.
“Gray” Pierce is a study in contradictions. Raised Roman Catholic, he still feels strong stirrings of faith, but has also delved extensively into other religions and philosophies, including Buddhism, Judaism, and Taoism. A born leader, he nevertheless has issues with authority and does not always play well with others. Impulsive and not inclined to hesitate when action is called for, he has a wild streak and prefers to trust his instincts rather than rely on systematic, dogged methodology. As a Sigma force operative, he struggles to find a balance between daring and recklessness.
His father, Jack, was a Texas oilman who lost part of one leg in an industrial accident, leaving him angry, bitter, and prone to drink. His mother, Harriet, was an accomplished biologist who taught first at a Jesuit high school in Texas and later at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. His grandfather, who died while Gray was away at boot camp, gave Gray a rosary that he often carries to this day—despite his leanings toward Taoism.
At sixteen, Gray spent a summer working as a rig hand at a Texas oil field to please his father. But, in time, Jack’s temper and drinking drove Gray out of the house. He joined the Army at eighteen and the Rangers at twenty-one. Court-martialed for striking a superior officer (with good reason), he spent a year in Leavenworth prison, where he occupied himself by studying both advanced chemistry and Taoism. This evidence of a unique mind and personality intrigued Painter Crowe, who recruited Gray for Sigma Force.
While pursuing a dual degree in biology and physics (a curriculum he designed himself), Gray also spent four months at a Buddhist monastery in Nepal. Fascinated by the Taoist principle of yin and yang, he still searches, with mixed results, for harmony and balance.
Gray has made an effort to reconcile with his father, who is now suffering from Alzheimer’s. His mother recently passed away. His younger brother, Kenny, is an electrical engineer who runs a computer start-up company in Silicon Valley, California. He and Gray were never close, and Kenny now blames Gray for [REDACTED].
Gray enjoyed an on-and-off romance with Lieutenant Rachel Verona, an Italian policewoman stationed in Rome, but the inevitable strains of a long-distance love affair eventually drove them apart. His relationship with the enigmatic assassin Seichan is even more complicated. He often wears a silver dragon pendant she left for him after their first encounter and he has since become her primary contact at Sigma. After years of mutual attraction and suspicion, they recently acted on their feelings following the shocking events of [REDACTED]. Whether this connection will last, or if they can ever truly trust each other, remains to be seen.
Gray’s best friend is fellow agent Monk Kokkalis, who was recruited into Sigma around the same time that Gray was. More easy-going and by-the-book, Monk tempers Gray’s steely, somewhat driven nature and can often get through to his friend when no one else can. They have proven to be a good team.
Current rank: Staff Sergeant (medic)
Background: Green Beret
Specialties: forensic medicine and biotechnology.
Bald. Brown eyes. Five foot three, stocky, with a boxer’s build, a shaved head, and bushy brows, Monk stands out in a crowd. His craggy features have been compared to a pit bull’s. This brutish exterior is not a pretty sight, especially when he flashes a wicked grin, but can come in handy when he needs to intimidate someone. Like his friend and frequent partner, Grayson Pierce, he is in his thirties.
Perhaps his most notable feature is his prosthetic left hand. After losing his hand to [REDACTED], he was fitted with a state-of-the-art prosthetic. A marvel of advanced DARPA technology, it incorporates direct peripheral nerve control through the titanium wrist contact points. Sophisticated mechanics and actuators allow precise moments and sensory input, while the stumped end of his wrist is encased in a polysynthetic cuff, surgically attached to the stump and wired into nerve bundles and muscle tendons. In addition, the prosthetic’s wireless capacity allows him to operate the hand remotely, which can be useful for party tricks or impressing superstitious natives. An explosive charge, equivalent to a flash-bang grenade, is blended into the plastic sleeve of the outer hand, making the explosive almost impossible to detect. False palm prints can be laser-printed onto the hand to fool biometric palm readers/security devices. Outfitted with all manner of high-tech countermeasures, the prosthetic is part hand, part weapons system.
Monk carries three old bullet wound scars, on his shoulder, upper leg, and chest, from his former career as a Green Beret, where he became the only survivor of a deadly ambush in Afghanistan. During his recovery stateside, he was recruited by Sigma due to his genius-level IQ and put through a doctoral program in forensic medicine with a secondary specialty in biotechnology. It was around this time that he first met Gray Pierce.
Monk’s injuries in Afghanistan were just the beginning; he sometimes seems the team’s designated punching bag. Besides losing his hand, he was once believed to have been killed in action during a mission in Indonesia [TJS]. It was only later discovered that he had been taken captive by [REDACTED] and used as a guinea pig for experimental brain surgery, resulting in amnesia [TLO]. Although he has gradually regained much of his memory, beginning with his oldest daughter’s name, he is still haunted by gaps in his memory. He has also been shot a few more times [TLO, TDC].
Despite his traumatic injuries, Monk remains an affable, optimistic sort whose favorite movie is The Sound of Music. A man of action, not prone to introspection, he feels naked without a shotgun and has a talent for seeing the big picture, as opposed to losing the forest for the trees. As a rule, he prefers to keep his feet on solid ground, and often reminds his fellow agents that there was a reason he joined the Army and not the Navy or Air Force.
Placed on disability for a year after his escape from his captors, he was anxious to get back into the field. The birth of his second child, however, has forced him to reconsider his priorities and he has recently submitted his resignation for the sake of his family [TDC]. It is unclear at this time if he will reconsider or if Painter Crowe will accept his resignation.
Monk is married to fellow Sigma agent Kathryn Bryant. The two began dating after working together on a mission [MOB] and got married shortly after Kat became pregnant with their first daughter, Penelope Anne [BO]. Their second daughter, Harriet, was born recently [TDC].
Current rank: Captain
Background: Naval Intelligence
Specialties: intelligence services and coordination
Auburn hair. Green eyes. A tall, athletic woman possessed of leonine grace, “Kat” Bryant tends to present herself conservatively in tight dress blues, always professional and spit-and-polished. A soft Southern accent colors her voice, but she c
an drop it like a dime if necessary. She is thirty-something.
Kat often wears a jeweled pin on her lapel: a tiny gold frog enameled in emerald. The pin was a gift from an amphibious team she once joined on a recon mission in Kabul, back when she was working for naval intelligence. Two members of the team were captured and threatened with decapitation. Kat managed to rescue the hostages, but, in the process, another member of the team was shot and killed by an enemy guard. She wears the frog pin in memory of her fallen comrade.
But not all of her missions were so traumatic. A few years prior to the Kabul tragedy, she worked with Monsignor Vigor Verona to catalogue evidence against a Nazi war criminal trading in stolen artwork. This connection would later prove useful to Sigma Force [MOB].
Recruited by Sigma due to her advanced knowledge of micro-surveillance and counterintelligence, she embarked on a study of engineering as well. Her background in intelligence, and rumored involvement with black-ops, initially engendered some distrust on the part of her fellow agents, but she quickly proved her worth in the field, where her ability to focus on even the smallest of minutiae often allowed her to spot vital details others might miss. She is also fluent in Russian—and handy with knives, swords, and lock picks.
Kat was shot three times during a gun battle at [REDACTED], but has since recovered [BO].
Following the brutal death of [REDACTED], Kat rose to the position of Painter Crowe’s second-in-command, where she handles mission coordination, arranging transportation, permits, cover stories, and other vital logistical matters for agents in the field. With her background in intelligence, she has proved skilled at enlisting foreign aid and orchestrating cross-satellite surveys almost anywhere in the world. When Painter himself is in the field or otherwise unavailable, she holds down the fort at Sigma Command and oversees all current operations.
A savvy player in the internecine world of Washington politics, she is Painter’s eyes and ears throughout D.C., where she maintains an intricate web of contacts, casting strands far and wide. And, like any good spider, she has an uncanny ability to monitor each vibrating filament, filter out the static, and get results. If anything, her keen attention to detail is even more valuable now than it was in the field, even though she occasionally misses getting her hands dirty.
Kat is married to Sigma agent Monk Kokkalis. They have two daughters, Penelope Anne and Harriet. Given Monk’s history of traumatic injuries, she often worries when he is in the field, and would prefer that he took less dangerous assignments, but she also fears that he will never truly be happy working a desk job.
Specialties: Human physiology, marine sciences.
A lean, long-legged, blue-eyed blonde from Southern California, Dr. Lisa Cummings looks equally at home on a beach, a boat, or in a lab. Now in her thirties, she sometimes wonders whatever happened to the footloose, bikini-clad young woman she once was.
Unlike most of her colleagues, who were deliberately recruited and trained by Sigma, Lisa got involved with Sigma by accident. After spending five years aboard a research vessel, studying the effects of high-pressure systems on deep-sea divers [as documented in Deep Fathom by James Rollins], she accepted a National Science Foundation grant to study the physiological effects of low-pressure systems on mountain climbers. While taking part in an oxygen-free ascent of Everest, she was drafted into investigating a mysterious medical emergency at a remote Buddhist monastery in Nepal, where she met Painter Crowe and found herself caught up in a perilous adventure involving renegade Nazi scientists, genetic mutation and [REDACTED].
Surviving that harrowing experience [BO], Lisa began working with Sigma, where she applies her medical expertise to good effect, investigating and responding to medical crises and mysteries throughout the world. Her knowledge of physiology allows her to read bodily responses as accurately as most lie detectors—and, unlike a lie detector, she knows how to provoke a telltale reaction as well. Needless to say, this talent can come in handy while working undercover for Sigma.
After living a rather rootless, nomadic life earlier, she appears to have finally found a home—and a calling--in Sigma Force.
For most of her life, Lisa avoided serious attachments, protecting her heart behind an armor of professionalism and casual dalliances. She enjoyed a brief romance with Jack Kirkwood, an astronaut turned treasure hunter [Deep Fathom], but that quickly turned to a lasting friendship instead. She has been romantically involved with Painter Crowe since their first adventure together [BO]. This has become her longest and most serious relationship to date.
Her younger brother, Josh, is a mountaineer and rock-climber.
Background: U.S. Navy.
The walking definition of a jarhead, Kowalski is a thick-limbed ape of a man with a Navy anchor tattooed on his right bicep and a pug nose knotted by an old break. He has stubble-cut dark hair and stands approximately six-foot-fix. His chest is crisscrossed with old scars. His brown eyes don’t seem to hold hidden depths. A Bronx accent betrays his roots.
More of an adoptee than a recruit, Kowalski was brought aboard Sigma as muscle after accidentally getting sucked into an operation in Brazil [KiL]. Prior to that incident, Kowalski had served on a Navy research submarine, the USS Polar Sentinel, during a particularly perilous mission to the Arctic [see Ice Hunt by Sigma historian James Rollins].
No genius, he comes off as distinctly less intellectual than the average Sigma operative, but may be (somewhat) sharper than he appears. He sometimes provides useful ideas and insights simply by not over-thinking things. (“Maybe you just connect the dots.”) Originally employed as security, he has since shown a natural talent for demolition and explosives (translation: he likes blowing things up). His first major operation for Sigma involved a global search for a missing chapter from Marco Polo’s book [TJS] and he has since played a supporting role in most Sigma Force endeavors. A sailor at heart, he prefers the open seas to long flights. He is fond of booze, sweets, cigars, good shoes . . . and possibly teddy bears, although he insists the latter are for his girlfriend.
He has an aversion to apes—for good reason [KiL].
Kowalski is involved with Elizabeth (“Liz”) Polk, a brilliant young anthropologist whom he first encountered during a Sigma operation a few years ago [TLO]. Their relationship baffles and bemuses his colleagues, but at least she has him showering more frequently.
MCKNIGHT, SEAN (deceased)
Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Background: Navy Seal
Specialties: physics and information technology
Tall, broad-shouldered, with graying red hair, Dr. Sean McKnight was pushing sixty at the time of his death.
The visionary founder and original director of Sigma Force, Sean was an ex-Navy Seal who went on to earn a Ph.D in both of his specialties. He worked for DARPA for over twenty years and personally recruited Painter Crowe into Sigma. He was later promoted to head of DARPA after the events of [REDACTED]. Killed in action by [REDACTED] during an assault on Sigma Command [TLO], he was replaced by General Gregory Metcalf.
Sigma Force remains Sean McKnight’s enduring legacy.
Sean was a close friend of Painter Crowe. When Painter replaced him as director of Sigma Force, Sean sent him a crate of antacids. Painter thought it was joke . . . at first.
Background: forensic pathology
Specialties: research and development
In his sixties, Dr. Jennings has a hip, professorial air, wit
h graying hair, dark olive skin, and glasses.
The head of Sigma’s R&D division, Malcom has been with Sigma since before Painter Crowe took over as director. His experience as a forensic pathologist still comes in handy, especially when an unknown cause of death needs to be determined, a deadly virus is spreading [TJS]—or when someone is murdered on Sigma’s doorstep [TLO]. He works full-time at Sigma Command and seldom ventures into the field.
Background: U.S. Army
An African-American in his mid-fifties, General Metcalf remains as sturdy and solidly-built as when he was a linebacker for West Point’s football team. Only his salt-and-pepper hair and reading glasses betray his age.